First Educational Leadership Graduate: Empowering Students Encourages Better Learning

Alumna Rasha Essam Hassan is the first female graduate of AUC's educational leadership program
Alumna Rasha Essam Hassan is the first female graduate of AUC's educational leadership program

For Rasha Essam Hassan (MA ’10, MA ’16), pursuing her second master’s degree in educational leadership (EDUL) at AUC was a privilege, but becoming the first graduate of the program is a distinguished honor.  

“I am deeply touched by this honor,” said Hassan, who completed her first MA in teaching Arabic as a foreign language at AUC. “It’s an honor that I can serve as a model for professional working women who aspire to hold leadership positions in my country. The EDUL program at AUC ensures that every teacher is capable of providing effective leadership at every level of the classroom, school and educational system.”

Currently teaching Arabic Media as a visiting instructor in the Department of Arabic Language Instruction, Hassan says that her desire to teach Arabic as a foreign language was crystallized through discussions with international students who expressed interest and curiosity in the language. “Since the Arabic language doesn’t have many language advocates, I thought of combining my fields of study, which are computer science and information systems, teaching Arabic as a foreign language and EDUL, to give a better image of the language,” she said. “I appreciate how international students think differently, in comparison to Arabic native speakers.”

Empowering students and giving them a voice inside and outside the class was the most significant leadership skill Hassan gained from the program. “Several courses from the program helped me reflect on my teaching skills and techniques, as well as connect the dots,” she said. “Giving students a voice to reflect on their learning encourages them to learn more effectively. The use of educational technology tools in a course helps achieve this in a powerful way.”

Education Technology Enthusiast

Hassan’s education journey is not finished yet. While pursuing her master’s degree and teaching at AUC, she also enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom. “I am in my second year of the PhD program, focusing on technology-enhanced learning,” she noted. “As educators, we need to understand how the effective use of technology maximizes student achievement, as well as educators’ professional development. Although my BSc in computer science and information systems taught me how to integrate technology in a pedagogical way, professional development will always require learning advanced educational tools and instructional methods using web-based platforms.”   

For Hassan, positive student-faculty relationship and support are why she would encourage students to apply to the Graduate School of Education EDUL program. “Throughout my studies, I never felt there was a gap between the professors and students,” she said. “The professors were my family and constant source of support. I am thankful for my mother, Fatma Salem, and thesis supervisor, Russanne Hozayin, for showing belief in me and my work.”

Hassan plans to apply her education leadership learning experience next fall, when she will be teaching technology and enhanced learning, or educational leadership.