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AUS international studies alumna and entrepreneur eyes professorship as future career
From entrepreneurship to academia, American University of Sharjah (AUS) alumna Sidiqa Sohail has shown how ambition, commitment and hard work can lead to success.
Upon her graduation from AUS in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, Sohail embarked on her professional journey by starting her own business, Spontiphoria. A boutique café and bakery, Spontiphoria was a concept store producing home-baked goods, showcasing independent brands and hosting community events.
“I started it because I enjoyed baking and loved the creativity that comes with running a business, including the social aspect of that, which is meeting people. Opening a business is definitely something I am proud of, but I am equally proud of knowing when it was time to move on and successfully sell it,” said Sohail.
In 2018, Sohail sold her business and decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Durham, from which she also obtained an MA in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. Her doctoral research focused on refugee mental health, one of the highly prioritized aspects of humanitarian aid.
“My research focuses on preschool refugee education. I am looking at whether humanitarian agencies adopt a mental health approach when creating preschool programs. There is a great need for this in the world. The first six years of a child’s life are extremely important. However, most mental healthcare services cater to children who are older. My research is qualitative in nature and includes case-study and interview-driven research,” said Sohail.
Reflecting on her life and her achievements, Sohail said that adaptability has been key to her success.
“Things will not always work the way you want them to and you have to be willing to adapt, change and reorient yourself,” she said.
She also noted that her AUS education provided her with a solid foundation that she built upon and helped her during her business enterprise and her in her move to academia.
“The rigorous academic standards at AUS instilled in me a strong work ethic. Our courses also challenged us to think critically and that helped me to think outside the box,” she said.
Sohail is looking forward to finishing her PhD and teaching at the university level.
Offered through the AUS College of Arts and Sciences, the Bachelor of Arts in International Studies prepares students for careers in government, international organizations, international consulting, business, education, community development and human rights work with non-government organizations.
For more information about the Bachelor of Arts in International Studies program, visit www.aus.edu/cas/bais.