For Immediate Release
December 13, 2005
Contacts: Ellen Ternes, 301-405-4621 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Every Grad Has a Story
First Generation Arab-American Leaves Gift of Unity
Samy Bassam Muaddi, who will deliver the December commencement student address, is something that Americans have been since the country began - the son of immigrants. It is the mix of the heritage of his parents, Bassam and Alice Muaddi, who came from Palestine and Jordan to the U.S. in 1967, and his American life that have inspired Samy to create the legacy of unity he will leave to the university.
Two years ago, when campus tensions between Jewish and Arab students were running high, he co-founded The Common Grounds Project. A collaboration between the Jewish Leadership Council and the Organization of Arab Students, it "asks Palestinian Americans and Israeli Americans to come together to explore what common ground we have to stand on," says Muaddi. This past summer, Muaddi interned with Beit Sahour municipality in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank , writing successful grant proposals for humanitarian aid and development projects. "I gained a greater appreciation for my family and why my parents raised me the way they did," Muaddi says."Although my father lacked educational opportunities, he always stressed the importance of education in my life."
Muaddi also co-founded Terp Runners sports club, ran on several marathon teams, and was a member of a Debkeh troupe, which performs traditional Arabic folk dance. His hopes to work on economic development in Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan Africa . He also is hoping to convince his parents to write their autobiographies.
Muaddi is the son of Bassam and Alice Muaddi of Maple Shade , NJ . He is a graduate of Holy Cross High School , Delran , NJ .
Dumpster Diving for a Degree
About six weeks before University of Maryland graduate student Linda Cerniglia was to defend her master's thesis, she learned the most valuable lesson of her seven-year quest for her postgraduate degree -- Back up your data.
It started out as a love affair. How much better could it get than a little jump drive, the size of a lighter, that could store a whole thesis, all of your raw data and fit right in your purse, so you could have it with you all the time?
"That jump drive was the most important thing in my world," says Cerniglia. "Every day I would hold it up and say 'I love you.'"
It's no wonder. That jump drive held the results of what Cerniglia calls the most "grueling thing I've ever done" - writing a thesis. Now Cerniglia is no fresh-faced co-ed. She is a 43-year-old size-zero personal trainer, with 20 years of work under her belt. But this thesis thing was tough, even for her. "I danced in New York in a company run by a Japanese woman. There were times we would dance 24-hours non-stop. That was a piece of cake compared to writing my thesis."
Unfortunately, the thief who last spring stole her purse, where Cerniglia lovingly kept her jump drive, and her workout gear, could have cared less that she had neglected to back up any of the drive's data. When she discovered the theft, only six weeks before her thesis defense, she says "I went into full blown panic mode. I was in abject despair. I thought if I fell asleep the drive would get farther and farther from me."
Cerniglia's desperation finally drove her into the dumpster. By tracing where the thief had tried to use her credit cards, Cerniglia grasped on to a slim thread of hope that he would have tossed the evidence after taking her wallet.
That took her to a dumpster near the first store the thief had hit. "The dumpster was calling to me," she says. And so she jumped in and started tossing boxes aside. First she saw her running shorts. Another layer down was her workout bag. Finally, after sifting through everything, there, lying at the bottom of the dumpster was her purse.
"I opened it, and there was my little jump drive. I started screaming, jumping up and down. I couldn't believe it."
The rest is history. Cerniglia successfully defended her thesis and will receive her master's degree on December 21. And she says she has learned her lesson.
"I should have learned it earlier," she says. "A guy in my group last spring didn't back up his jump drive either. The dog ate his." She is not making this up.
Fourth Generation Terp
There are Terps and there are Terps. When Brendan McClellan of Columbia gets his diploma on Dec. 21, he will become the latest in an unbroken string of four generations of Maryland graduates and faculty, in both his mother's and father's families.It all started with his great grandfather on his mother's side, Charles E. White. A University of Maryland chemistry professor and department chair, the chemistry library is named in White's honor. Three grandparents are Terp alums, and his mom, Linda McLeish McClellan (in photo with Brendan), and dad, John Bernard McClellan, met and married at Maryland, as did his great aunt and uncle. His sister and too many cousins to count - he stopped at about 17 total family members - also graduated from the College Park campus.
It goes without saying that Brendan has been a Maryland fan since he was old enough to say "Go Terps." When it was time to choose a college, he looked around, but still liked Maryland. "I wanted a big school, there's so much to do here." He will graduate with a degree in kinesiology and take a job with the Bowie Baysox baseball team.
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