When Sara Khodr moved to Qatar with her family, after having spent the first 14 years of her life in Seattle, USA, she was struck by how much people here knew about the West and how little her friends back in the West knew of the Middle East. Sara, who comes from a Lebanese background, resolved to use the power of media to help right this imbalance.
"I started to realize then that I wanted to give voice to people and issues that matter in the Middle East but are often overlooked in international media," says Khodr, now an undergraduate at Northwestern University in Qatar, "I wanted to fight common stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims, but at that point, I didn't yet know how."
Nearly six years later, Sara is positioning herself to make her mark in one of the most powerful and complicated industries in the world 21st century media. She's among the first students in Qatar who will graduate with a business certification to add to her Journalism degree.
Northwestern University in Qatar offers its students the opportunity to complete coursework equivalent to a minor in business administration through a cooperation with nearby Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Khodr sees the program as a way to propel herself beyond mere participation in the region's media, to a position of leadership from where she can help shape the global media discourse.
At the end of the day, Khodr notes, the decisions about the direction of a media company are made by a combination of editorial and business concerns. "Journalism is a very competitive field of work," says Sara, "and studying business will not only provide me with a wider range of opportunities for reporting, but it will also help prepare me to handle issues of management and leadership in the field."
Khodr has seen the challenges and thrills of the media business up close. Just last year, her uncle, whose background is in business, launched Von Green Media, a marketing and advertising company in Dubai. She says that business runs in her family, and as a sophomore, she's already feeling confident about her career prospects, whether that means following her uncle's entrepreneurial footsteps or working for one of the leading media outlets in the region like Al Jazeera.
As part of the cross-enrollment program available to communications and journalism students, Khodr will complete six business courses covering the principles of economics, accounting and management. "Many people don't realize how rigorous the coursework is for a degree in Journalism," Khodr says, "and adding business studies is an extra challenge, but I am willing to put in the effort because it may be what sets me apart in a competitive field."
NU-Q Dean and CEO Everette E. Dennis commented, "Leadership in the 21st century media environment requires a diverse range of skills. Offering our students the chance to supplement their studies at NU-Q with other disciplines increases their ability to create their own opportunities and map their own futures."
As part of the cross-enrollment program, CMU-Q students are also able to pursue a certificate at NU-Q in Contemporary Media studies. Undergraduates in the second semester of their freshmen year are eligible to apply to participate this spring.