Sawsan Daws graduated from the University of Iowa (UI) in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree in applied physics with a concentration in optics. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Daws chose to pursue her undergraduate studies in STEM at the UI because she was intrigued by the research facilities and resources the UI offered to its students.
“I definitely made the right decision to study there,” said Daws. “I found the environment at the UI, especially in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the College of Engineering, very encouraging for me to pursue science. I remember one time, when Professor David Anderson told me that ‘we need more female leaders like you in engineering’, I was over the moon with happiness. From that moment, I promised to help the women around me pursue careers in STEM. In 2020, the university sponsored my participation to present my research at the Undergraduate Women in Physics Conference (UWiP), which helped me connect with female scientists from other universities in the U.S.”
After graduating from the UI, Daws moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to join Banner Engineering Corporation as an applications and optics engineer. Currently, she is pursuing her graduate studies in materials science and engineering at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.
"Throughout my college life, International Student and Scholar Services arranged activities to engage international students around campus and into the community of Iowa City, which I appreciated because I made life-long friends in those activities and felt at home."
After completing her Ph.D., Daws hopes to work as a researcher in the tech industry and potentially establish a start-up. “My degree from the UI has given me rich knowledge and my undergraduate research has opened many doors, including working in the U.S. after graduation and getting into KAUST,” shared Daws.
In addition to providing the best academic experiences to its students, Daws said the UI encouraged diversity and was filled with friendly faces from across the world, which made her feel like she belonged.
“Right before my freshmen year started, I was anxious about adjusting to a new life,” said Daws. “However, once I arrived on campus, it was not difficult to make friends at all. Throughout my college life, International Student and Scholar Services arranged activities to engage international students around campus and into the community of Iowa City, which I appreciated because I made life-long friends in those activities and felt at home.”
Daws believes the beginning of every journey is difficult and studying abroad is no exception. Her advice to UI students from the Middle East is to make friends from all over the globe, get involved in Middle Eastern student clubs and activities, and never say no to new experiences and challenges.
“One of the reasons why the UI is among the top universities in the world is its strength in the STEM fields,” commented Russ Ganim, associate provost and dean of International Programs at the UI. “As we are making a concerted effort to increase recruitment from the Middle East, we are delighted to see more students from this region come to Iowa City. The UI’s emphasis on initiatives for women in STEM contributes to our success on a global level.”
Written by: Suyun Channon International Programs