14 years after she quit studying, Athari Al Awadhi decided to make a comeback. In the fall of 2012, at 36 Athari was the oldest student in her class. This is the story of a fighter who after learning many a lessons from life, decided she needed to learn something from her teachers as well. Inspiring, strong and beautiful, she is a role model for everyone around her.
On leaving school, marriage and family:
“Sometimes in life you have to take a difficult decision to make things easier.”
I was 19 when I got married. After finishing my certification in Management, I tied the knot and then came my two beautiful children. I got busy with family life and education took a back seat. Of course I always thought about wanting to study, but it was just that, a thought.
After 10 years of marriage, I decided to call it quits and in 2007, as I was ending my relationship with my husband, I was also embarking on a new one, a relationship with myself.
Coming back to school:
My mother always said: “Without education you will be like a blind person, you must read and write in order to see the world.”
I worked in the Ministry of Interior for a long time as their Head of Management, and then from there I moved into the private sector. No matter where I went, I was surrounded by people who were highly qualified in their fields. Even though I was working at par with them, something inside me always felt small.
Encouraged by my elder sister, Suad, who herself has a Ph.D in Management, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hand. That’s how I ended up here, in ACK, in a class full of students who are closer to my kids in age than to me!
First Day at College:
“I was as nervous on my first day in college as my kids were on their first day at school.”
I almost cried on my first day at college. It was scary; I didn’t know how I was going to handle it. It wasn’t just the age gap between me and the rest of the students, we were from different generations, how would I find anything in common with them.
But the nervousness only lasted until the beginning of the first class. Once the lecture started, I eased into my comfort zone. Sure the other students were younger, but they were also respectful and considerate. In all the time that I have spent here at ACK, I feel my class mates have added so much to my life.
They have taught me about communication. That you have to speak to the people in a language they understand. They don’t just make me a better person; they also make me a better mom. Dealing with youngsters here has taught me how to be a friend to my own children.
On Being an Active Student:
“Communication is a two way street.”
Being a member of the Student Council, The Art Club, The Toastmasters Club and The Cooking Club has put me in touch with passionate students. It is a gift really… every time I associate with people I learn something new.
The reason I joined so many clubs is two-folds. Firstly my teachers constantly push me to go out and do something more than just academics; secondly I think being a Marketing student, it is important for me to understand how people work. How different people think, what they like, how they communicate; it’s important to study people in order to be a good marketeer.
On Friendships and Networking:
“Lasting relationships are what will see you through in life.”
I have always been a believer in investing in people. I give a lot of myself to my friendships and over time it has paid off. During the difficult phases in my life, it has been my friends who have encouraged and comforted me.
I think people today don’t understand the importance of investing in relationships. It’s all short term; people come together finish a task and go their separate ways. They don’t realize the importance of long term friends. I wish they valued each other more.
“I wish I had someone like me in my life when I was younger.”
I do not regret any of my decisions, the only thing I wish I had was a guide. Someone who shared their life experiences with me and guided my decision making. I have experienced a lot of relationships, being a wife and a mother have added to my personality and now being a student is helping me develop further.
I try to share my experiences with my friends here at the university. If it helps someone make a better decision, then nothing like it.
“Everyone should have a dream.”
I want to apply for a Masters once I am done with my bachelor’s degree and eventually I want to get into teaching. I think I have a lot to offer in terms of life experiences and lessons learned from it. I wish to share with youngsters what life has taught me, maybe guide them forward and hopefully in the process feel fulfilled myself.
Life has its own strange way of surprising you and setting you on new paths. I am excited to see what else it has in store.
To summarize everything in three small words, “Bring it on!”