USAID Scholar Dreams of Helping Students with Disabilities Through Tech
“After graduation, the next step will be working for a company, and after that, I hope to found my own because this is my big dream— establishing my own company that is specialized in technology, and partly focused on assistive technology,” said Mohamed Hamdy, a visually impaired student who has recently joined AUC as part of the USAID Scholars Activity scholarship program.
Hamdy feels a drive toward becoming an entrepreneur and building a company that can direct increased technological support to visually impaired students, as well as other students with disabilities, in the future. “I am looking forward to being a successful person for myself, for my family and for my country. I hope to influence my community inshallah,” he shared.
A Passion for Tech
In 2020, Hamdy was accepted as part of the very first cohort of the USAID Scholar Activity, a program providing scholarships for students to study at AUC and several partner Egyptian public and private universities Having just wrapped up his first year with AUC, a bridge year as part of the scholarship program, Hamdy has already been exposed to the assistive technology the University has in place to support students with disabilities and is passionate about integrating such technology into other spaces across Egypt.
“AUC has a different system than any other university in Egypt. The assistive technology here is something great because we have a specialist and a center called Student Disability Services. They are doing their best to facilitate everything here,” Hamdy explained. “On the other hand, at other universities, we still need to develop this support to make everything available for people with visual impairment. I feel that students with visual impairment have the potential to succeed at other universities, but they don’t have the assistive technology they need, and we need to work on that.”
Hamdy sees the field of technology as one that can help him cultivate the skills he needs to create change in society and hopes to start taking courses toward a major in management of information and communication technology. “I love this field because I hope to be an AI expert one day,” he explained. “AI can facilitate many things for people — for instance, people with visual impairment or with disabilities in general. This field can help improve their lives.”
Hamdy’s interest in technology was sparked at the young age of 12, when his family first started to introduce him to computer skills by enrolling him in specialized courses. Later, at the age of 16, he began to develop an even greater passion for the field of computer science. Now, after a year of online courses, he is back on campus and looking forward to continue pursuing his interest in the digital field.
Starting the AUC Journey
Beyond finding support in the advanced assistive technology AUC offers, Hamdy was thrilled to be joining a university with a dynamic community and a unique liberal arts approach. “I love the liberal arts curriculum because this can help us learn more about different cultures and diverse people,” he reflected. “This is the perfect system.”
In his bridge year with AUC, Hamdy enrolled in two courses: a pre-academic course focused on fostering soft skills and a second English-language course. During this time, he focused on his English studies in preparation for the IELTs exam. “I worked a lot for the course to take the IELTS and to get the score that I need,” Hamdy shared. “I enhanced my English level and my command of the language. I learned how to be responsible and committed to something.”
Although his first year of classes was conducted completely online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamdy has been able to start building connections with AUC’s diverse community of students and learn from his peers. “From what I’ve seen so far, the community is great and helpful,” he shared. “I learned from the experiences of some people, and this has supported me throughout my journey.”
While Hamdy hasn’t been able to become involved in cocurricular activities at AUC yet, he is looking forward to exploring his nonacademic hobbies during the 2021-2022 academic year. In particular, he has always enjoyed swimming, playing music and cycling, and is now excited to see how he can pursue these interests as a part of his campus experience.
Overall, Hamdy is eager to immerse himself even further into the AUC community and start to deepen his relationships with other students as well as his professors. “I’m happy to be going to campus every day and experience everything in real life, especially meeting my professors, who can help me build my career and academic life,” he said.