A success story of an Engineering student
Mohammad Maarouf, the recipient of The Peter Kohler Engineering Scholarship:
“I like to see how things are built”
Feb 19th, 2021
By Adrian Dobre
The Peter Kohler Engineering Scholarship was established by a generous donation from Peter Kohler. This scholarship is valued at $50,000 per student and will be awarded at $10,000 each year over five years, with renewal dependent on the recipient maintaining the minimum academic requirements for a scholarship and funding remaining available. The scholarship is awarded annually to a student entering the Memorial University Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Co-operative Education Program. The recipient must demonstrate high academic ability, with preference going towards students who attended and graduated high school in Newfoundland and Labrador who demonstrate financial need. This year’s recipient is Mohammad Maarouf.
Mohammad graduated from Holy Heart High School in June 2020 and started the Engineering program in September, same year. He is originally from Syria. Mohammad and his family arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2016 as political refugees, after spending almost three years in a camp in Lebanon. Mohammad is the oldest of four children with one brother and two sisters. “My little brother was less than one year old when we left Syria. All his memories are from here,” said Mohammad. “For me it is different. Sometimes, I miss my friends over there. My grandparents passed away when we left Syria, but I have classmates from elementary school or relatives who still live in Syria or Lebanon.” Although his family has been adapting to the Canadian culture, they try to preserve their traditions. “We meet from time to time over the weekends with other Syrian families. My mom makes food that we used to have back home. It does not always taste the same because we cannot find all the ingredients here, but with time it is getting better. Since more people from the Middle East have moved to St. John’s, a few food stores carrying such spices have opened recently.” In Syria, Mohammad would have maybe one day of snow per year and that would be a big holiday for everyone. In the last four years, Mohammad has gotten used to the NL capricious weather. Although NL is much colder and gets more snow than Syria, he goes outdoors and tries to enjoy the snow as much as possible.
Mohammad wanted to get into Faculty of Engineering because he enjoyed high school Physics classes and felt very comfortable with numbers. “In addition, I like to see how things are built and this is what we do in Engineering”, said Mohammad. “My first discipline choice is Mechanical Engineering, because I am interested to know how things move. My second choice is ONAE. I have a friend in St. John’s who is a researcher in this field and he always tells me how cool it is to build ship structures.”
I asked Mohammad how he felt as a university student. “Good.”, the answer came quickly. “It is different because everything is online.” He does not have many friends who are also taking engineering classes to be able to work together. Being online makes it difficult for almost all our first-year students to make connections and meet people. “The only interaction I have with my classmates is during the live engineering tutorials or labs, which I enjoy the most”, continued Mohammad.
He does well academically, but if he must choose an engineering course that was his most challenging, he would pick ENGI 1020 Introduction to Programming without any hesitation. “I took the course in the Fall. It was a bit challenging, because I did not have any prior exposure to programming before coming to Memorial. Also, being in my first term as a university student, it took some time to find may way around. I wish I took full advantage of the great resources the Faculty of Engineering offers students. For example, I did not attend as many Supplemental Instruction sessions as I would have liked. This term is different. I attend ENGI 1010 SI sessions. Interacting with peers, discussing topics learned in class and going over examples is very beneficial.”
While other students may be quick to spend some of the scholarship money on gifts for themselves or their families, Mohammad has no such plans. “If I buy something it will be a chocolate cake to celebrate with my family. The scholarship money is a big help for me and my family who just started a new life in Canada. My focus is to work hard every day to achieve the academic requirements for maintaining the scholarship every year.”
Good luck in reaching your Canadian dreams, Mohammad!