Six degrees of education
Jordanian siblings use diplomas to launch international business ventures

by Sherry Wodraska Neaves

In 1979, six Saad siblings were enrolled at UTA at the same time. From left: Mohammed Saad, Meisa Saad Maani, Hinda Saad Shalan, Sereena Saad and Saad Al-Saad. Not pictured is Mashal Saad, who lives in Boston

Arlington, Texas, lies half a world away from Amman, Jordan, but all six siblings in the Saad family earned their degrees from UTA.

The children followed their father, Nayef, to diplomatic posts throughout the world and at most stops attended American schools. That association eventually brought the second son, whose first name is also Saad, to the United States for his college education.

Saad needed to find a school with a variety of majors where his five siblings could study. Finances were important because at one time—fall 1979—all six were enrolled simultaneously. These factors, plus the School of Architecture’s international reputation, brought him to UTA.

Brother Mohammed and sister Hinda soon joined Saad in Arlington, enrolling in the architecture and civil engineering programs. Then it was sister Meisa’s turn.

“By the time Sereena and I got out of high school, UTA had become a kind of family tradition. I don’t remember ever thinking about going anywhere else.”
–Mashal Saad (’85 BS)

“Dad, Mom, Sereena and I came to the U.S. to drop her off and maybe go to Disney World,” youngest brother Mashal said. “I was 14 and Sereena 15. We got to DFW Airport at 2 a.m. on the Fourth of July and the next morning went to the big parade. It was great. Then Dad came up with the idea that the two youngest, Sereena and I, should go to high school in Arlington, so the family could all be together.”

Meisa enrolled in the UTA School of Architecture while Sereena and Mashal attended Arlington High School.  “We never did get to Disney World,” Mashal said. “But we did go to Six Flags.”

Saad graduated in 1979 with a bachelor of science in architecture and a bachelor of arts in political science. Hinda followed later that year with a B.S. in civil engineering. Mohammed and Meisa both earned B.S. degrees in architecture in 1980. In 1985, Sereena graduated with a bachelor of business administration, and Mashal earned his bachelor of science in math.

“By the time Sereena and I got out of high school, UTA had become a kind of family tradition,” Mashal said. “I don’t remember ever thinking about going anywhere else.”

Today the siblings, with the exception of Mashal (who lives in Boston), are all back in Jordan and all working in family businesses.

Saad is founder and chairman of Mediterranean Group International, a holding company for three family enterprises—MedDesign, MedMedia and MedIT/Boston IT. The holding company works mainly in identity management, emphasizing design, media and technology.

Meisa is managing director of MedDesign, which is recognized throughout the Middle East as a trend-setter in architectural design.

Far away in Boston, Mashal develops computer systems, as Boston IT assists MedIT in making information technology available to the people of Jordan and the Mediterranean region.

Sereena serves as the holding company’s director of management information systems, and Hinda is the firm’s engineering consultant. Mohammed is also a board member of MedGroup International, plus he serves as the senior vice president for the Middle East with Hillwood Strategic Services.

Another generation of Saads now studies in a bilingual preparatory school in Amman. Will any of them come to UTA? No one knows yet, but it’s certainly an option. After all, as Mashal says, “Why study in the U.S.? It’s the best place to go.”


Springing forward
Graduate students lead the way in spring enrollment increase
Graduate students like Ruby Ruperto and her Contemporary Science classmates significantly boosted University enrollment for spring 2001, the fifth consecutive semester of enrollment increases.

Writing for the Digital Age
New  tools and technologies are taking one Honors English class online and into the future
When students in Martin Danahay’s Honors English class get ready to work, they don’t pull textbooks out of their backpacks. Instead, they each slide a thin, black Toshiba laptop onto their desk, flip up the cover and log in to UTA’s first completely wireless class.

Worldwide welcome
International recruitment efforts are expected to pay long-term dividends
New faces, from places all over the world, keep coming through the UTA front door. And, with continuing international recruitment efforts, the University is keeping the welcome mat on the doorstep.


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