A Loyal Alumnus Giving Back to His Community, AUC

We always say AUC shapes one’s character and instills in them a sense of giving back to their community. Then we go on describing the civic engagement activities and community service work alumni participate in to improve people’s lives. However, we tend to forget to mention that AUC is also part of their community — a community that they grew up in, personally and professionally; shared memorable moments, stressful during exams and fruitful and entertaining at other times; where they were exposed to a diversity of people, broadening their horizons. It is their community, and for that, they are giving back to AUC. 

In the fiscal year 2014, 45 percent of the amount of money donated to AUC was given by alumni and around 76 percent of our donors are alumni. One notable example of a loyal and successful alumnus, who makes us proud of the type of education we offer our students, is Ibrahim Youssef ’07. An important lesson Youssef learned at AUC was in his Contemporary Philosophy course, taught then by Professor Graham Harman. “We are defined by ‘the They;’ simply meaning ‘we are defined by our surroundings,’” he said. “AUC was a good choice of surrounding to get influenced by.”

Youssef was one of AUC’s scholarship recipients. “My main motivation behind giving back to AUC is simply reciprocity,” he said. “Investing in my education at AUC has paid off very well for me — personally, professionally and financially. Giving back is the least I could do in gratitude of what AUC has provided in support of my education.”

Youssef, who used to work as an associate at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), has recently established his own strategy consulting firm that provides support to investment institutions to find/assess investment opportunities and improve the performance of their portfolio. “Contrary to the experiences of many, I have come to use my learning from the weirdest of subjects — e.g. econometrics — in my career.”
 
Youssef does not think that he could have accomplished most of his career milestones without getting his undergraduate education at AUC. In 2007, he was accepted to Booz Allen Hamilton, an American management consulting firm. At the time he applied, they were only hiring AUC graduates.  Both soft and hard skills he acquired at AUC were essential to succeed at work and in his higher education. “My experience at AUC was personally and academically enriching. The liberal arts foundation of AUC’s education — coupled with the diverse student body — provides an exceptional exposure to different views through discussions that shed more light than heat. Also, the small class size and generally genial manner of professors supports the delivery of top quality learning,” he added.
 
Youssef would like to see AUC shaping the community rather than just giving back to the community. “AUC must be the leading example of social inclusion, diversity, and tolerance in Egypt. That is challenging,” he said. “The question raises itself: Should AUC be a passive recipient of the community’s values or induce progressive change to the community? ….. Seldom can one induce change at the national level, but it is always ‘easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world’. So, let’s start on campus!”

As a loyal and proud AUC alumnus, Youssef believes that AUC has already made significant achievements before reaching its 100th anniversary. “The relatively recent trophy is the relocation to New Cairo, which is indeed world-class,” he said. “In addition, good strides have been accomplished towards stepping up our global ranking in the past year — according to the 2014 QS World University Rankings. AUC has what it takes to compete with the top academic institutions globally. AUC’s new campus would be a great enabler towards achieving that goal, but it is just one enabler. Now, AUC can give more attention to content than form — continue attracting best in class professors, financing world-class research, and supporting top students regionally and globally.”

When asked to provide a word of advice to his fellow alumni and to current students, Youssef said, “I would like to ask my fellow alumni to continue engaging with AUC’s administration. AUC is very open to ideas/support from alumni. Goes without saying… please open your purse strings.” 

To current students, he added, “I would like to share a quote that might be useful: ‘Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid,’ (G.K. Chesterton). I wish everyone to reach solid convictions, but, until then, continue having an open mind.”