Rami Abu-Attiyeh (Class of 2017)

  • photo of Rami Abu Attiyehjunior double major in International Studies and Economics
  • from Oxford, OH
  • Vice President of Miami's Muslim Student Association
  • worked with visiting international student fellows as a summer intern for the SUSI (Study of the United States Institute) Program in 2014 and 2015
"There are a lot of really well-organized programs, so definitely take any opportunity you get, such as study abroad, an internship, or a student organization…The liberal arts basically keep everything focused for me, and my two majors here in the CAS are really the best of both worlds."

Why Miami?

"I came to the United States when I was 6 years old and grew up here in Oxford. Miami was always a big part of my life. My mom, Saeda Nader Abu-Attiyeh, teaches Arabic here in the Department of German, Russian, Asian, & Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures (GRAMELAC), and I really liked hanging out on this beautiful campus.

"I submitted my online application and then did a follow-up interview. During the interview they started off saying that Miami is going to be extensive, tough, a lot of hard work. I was fine with this! There were a few perks, and I was looking forward to living in a dorm, doing study abroad, and getting involved in other really cool things.

"Despite having lived in Oxford while I was growing up, though, my first year as a Miami student was really nerve-wracking, and I had trouble choosing a major. Having an international background can be tough sometimes, but it also gives you more of a perspective or worldview. You can give input on different things that others might not be able to.

"While I was still undecided with my major, I took Miami Plan courses here and there, just exploring different majors. I also took some business, engineering, and a few economics classes, which I especially liked, but I also wanted something that would give me more of a global perspective. I finally decided that doing economics with international studies would be a good combination."

Best Miami Experiences

"They call Miami a public ivy school, so I know when I graduate I'll automatically be prepared for a career no matter what. I think that because Miami offers all kinds of activities, clubs, study abroad opportunities, and support from professors, I'm being well-prepared and kept on task.

"In summer 2014 I did an internship through Miami called SUSI, Study of the United States Institute, which is for student scholars working in civic engagement. It was a 5-week program in which we went to New York, Washington, and Philadelphia. It was really amazing. They brought over 20 students from the Middle East, which helped it tie in with international studies and was another reason why I chose to participate. I got to interact with these international students, and since I have a Middle Eastern background, this made the program even more interesting and meaningful."

Miami and Liberal Arts Education

"I initially wanted to join Miami's business or engineering schools, but then I switched my major to undecided and started taking a bunch of different courses to figure out what I really liked. This led me to realize that the College of Arts and Science would be most practical for me. I'd be able to explore more kinds of courses and topics and finish in 4 years. Besides, the CAS offers economics as a major, which felt like an important advantage.

"My International Studies major offers different areas of focus, including economics, geography, linguistics, and more, all of which prepare you with a distinctive perspective on viewing things. On top of that, my economics major is very useful and challenging.

"I've also taken all sorts of other interesting courses here at Miami, like black world studies, anthropology, and theater. Liberal arts brought all of these courses together, and as a whole they're going to prepare me well for the future."

Working with Middle Eastern Students in the SUSI Program

"As part of the summer 2014 SUSI Program, which is based in Washington DC, I was part of a group that prepared for the arrival of 20 student fellows visiting from Egypt, Libya, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, and Tunisia. We spent a week focusing on all kinds of research on that region and organizing their schedule. Being an international student from the Middle East myself and the only person in our group from there, it was great being able to give the other SUSI members some of that perspective.

Rami Abu Attiyeh (second from left) and other SUSI interns hang out in Baltimore, MD, on their way to Washington, DC.

"Some of my input included what kind of food we should have for these visiting students. It was during the month of Ramadan, so I knew they'd be fasting at the time. I explained the meaning of Ramadan, what they could eat, and how to pronounce the students' names.

"When the students finally arrived, everybody got to know each other and we basically became like a big family. I helped them with their civic plan assignments, in which they had to pick a major issue from their home country and try to come up with a solution either by creating a non-profit organization or using civic engagement.

"That summer experience was what really just piqued my interest in majoring in International Studies. I hadn't really thought about international studies before. It also got me really into working with non-profit organizations and learning about the U.S government.

"I decided to participate at SUSI again this summer, taking on a new role on the production of a special documentary. The goal of this documentary is not only to narrate the individual experiences of the visiting student fellows, but also to illuminate their shared passions, visions, and transformations as emerging civic leaders working toward change in countless communities across the globe."

Advice to Students

"For your first year, just ride it out and do whatever piques your interest. Remember that Miami takes education really seriously. There are a lot of really well-organized programs, so definitely take any opportunity you get, such as study abroad, an internship, or a student organization.

"I didn't join any clubs my first year, since I was just trying to get the feel of where I was and where I'm going to be, but now I'm in Model Arab Leagues as well as the Muslim Student Association, where I'm the vice president. You'll make lots of friends in clubs, so be sure to go check them out and see what you like.

"The liberal arts basically keep everything focused for me, and my two majors here in the CAS are really the best of both worlds. A really helpful tip I received from one of my professors during my first year was, 'Just start taking courses and don't worry about it. It's not a big deal. Whatever you like, stick with it.' This is what's worked for me!"

[January 2015]