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UA Little Rock grad looks forward to career in tech industry, starting orphanage

Mariam Bouzihay
Mariam Bouzihay

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate is looking forward to a future in the tech industry, followed by fulfilling her lifelong goal of helping children. 

Mariam Bouzihay, of Jonesboro, has graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in information technology. 

In the fall, she will attend the New York University Tandon School of Engineering in the Management of Technology program to study user experience and interface design. The program is designed for college graduates and professionals who aim to make a difference in a world where economic and social advancement is increasingly dependent on integrating technology and business. Her lifelong goal, after establishing a career in the tech industry, is to open an orphanage.

“My ultimate goal is to open an orphanage, but I want to have a career first,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and I feel if people had that one person who was there for them that they could achieve so much. A child needs a support system, so I want to be there for those children and help others.”

Bouzihay’s decision to come to UA Little Rock was a family affair. Her older sister, Nora, attended UA Little Rock as a Donaghey Scholar, so, naturally, Bouzihay was intrigued. She has been an active participant in the EAST Scholarship Program at Nettleton High School in Jonesboro and wanted to continue that at her university. After being accepted as an EAST Scholar, Bouzihay has been involved in a number of community service activities.

“As an EAST Scholar, you teach yourself technology skills, and you put them to use to create a service project to help your community,” she said. “During my sophomore year, I worked with UA Little Rock Children International. We created an after-school EAST program at Wakefield Elementary, where the students created designs for their dream playground. During my junior and senior years, I helped plan events and get volunteers for the STEM Education Center, so I coordinated events like the robotics competitions, community engineering nights, and girls coding competition.” 

Throughout her time at UA Little Rock, Bouzihay has had some amazing experiences that make her stand out. She was a fellow in the Career Connections Powered by Facebook program, served as a strategic communications intern for the Judge David L. Bazelon Center of Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C., as well as an events and donor relations intern at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.

Last year, Bouzihay was one of 10 U.S. college students selected for the Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies cultural immersion program in Qatar. Bouzihay traveled to Qatar to learn about the country’s culture, society, and economics, as well as government priorities, concerns, and needs as pertaining to Qatari-U.S. relations.

“My favorite off-campus college experience was going to Qatar,” she said. “It was exciting to meet with different diplomats and consulates. We were guests of the government, and we learned about the culture and met other students and professors from the U.S. who shared the experience. We experienced things that most students will never get to see.”

Her favorite on-campus experiences included being involved in activities that made a difference to the university and the community, like serving as president of the Model Arab League and the Student Alumni Board as well as serving as the chief of staff and public relations officer for the Student Government Association.

“My best on-campus experience is creating connections with people and being able to give back to the university,” Bouzihay said. “I love UA Little Rock. I think it’s Arkansas’s best kept secret. We have so many amazing programs, and I’ve been glad to help grow and shine some light on these programs. Since my freshman year, I’ve wanted to make changes on this campus, and that has pushed me to succeed. SGA helped me gain connections on campus, like being on the reaccreditation steering committee, and learning how things work in higher education.” 

Bouzihay was thankful to a number of mentors who helped her succeed during her time at UA Little Rock.

“My biggest mentor is Rebecca Glazier, since I was in Model Arab League. She opened a lot of doors, and that is why I went to Qatar,” Bouzihay said. “Sandra Leitermann at the STEM Education Center has also been an inspiration to me. I really look up to her. I work very closely with Kristi Smith and Samantha Wiley in the Bailey Alumni Center in my job as a communications intern. They have given me great opportunities to grow and advice.”

As someone who participated in the Upward Bound college preparation program, Bouzihay knows the importance of having a good mentor, which is why she decided to serve as a mentor to students in UA Little Rock’s Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy and the Student Affairs Success Initiatives.

“I saw how important it was to have positive mentors and have someone to relate to you,” she said. “I always wanted to give back, especially since the Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy and the Student Affairs Success Initiatives focused on minority students. Some people just need one person to listen and help them. Anyone can be a mentor, but it takes a lot to be a positive mentor. I’m a first-generation student, so I know what it’s like and how to help new students navigate the system.”

While looking back at her college career at UA Little Rock, Bouzihay is grateful for the journey that has left her with a lifetime of exciting memories.

“It was a learning experience. It opened doors I didn’t think would be possible or even existed,” she said. “It showed me the importance of giving back to the university and, no matter what, to give it your all. Without UA Little Rock, I wouldn’t have had the experiences I’ve had or met the people I have. I thank UA Little Rock for that. I’m excited to move on to new experiences and use what I’ve learned these past four years.”