Far from Home: Elhadary uses list of goals as motivation this semester

March 04, 2015

Editor's note: Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

“Make something big,” “A in all classes,” “Freshman of the year.” Several times a day, Moustafa Elhadary reads these words to himself.

Elhadary, a first-year computer engineering major at Penn State Behrend, has programmed a list of goals into his iPod. He created the list, set on a radiant yellow background, as he sat in an airplane on his way back to Behrend from his home in Dubai for the start of the spring semester in January.

Elhadary reached many of his goals during the fall semester, compiling a 3.88 GPA and serving as a senator for the Student Government Association, as chairman of the International Student Organization and as promotional coordinator for the Muslim Student Association.

However, he says he hopes this is only the beginning for him. That’s where his list comes into play.

“I always put my homework assignments into my iPod, so when I look at my homework, I see these goals, and because they’re vibrant yellow, they grab my attention every time,” Elhadary said. “It reminds me that I came here for a reason. Sometimes, you get caught up in the everyday things, and this list reminds me, ‘Hey Moustafa, your parents spent a lot of money for you to come here, and you need to make them proud.’”

While he has been active in many clubs and organizations, he has been mindful of his academics. Last semester, he had an epiphany.

“I thought, ‘What if I can stay here for four years and get two degrees instead of one?’” Elhadary recalled. “So, in the middle of the semester, I said, ‘Why not?’”

At the moment, he is taking 22 credits and considering second major options. Industrial engineering or software engineering are possibilities, but he also might consider a business major.  

Between taking so many credits this semester and his extracurricular activities, time is a limited resource for Elhadary. He’s even struggled to find time to connect with his family.

“I’ve barely called them because of my schedule,” he said. “I’ve really been trying to, but it’s hard.”

Fortunately, thanks to his iPod, he gets frequent reminders. It’s right there in bright yellow: “Call Zazo, Many and Papy more often.”

  • Moustafa Elhadary has programmed a list of goals (pictured) into his iPod that he plans to refer to daily throughout the spring semester.

    Moustafa Elhadary has programmed a list of goals into his iPod (pictured) that he plans to refer to daily throughout the spring semester.

    IMAGE: Penn State Behrend

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Last Updated March 04, 2015