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Abdullah Alzeer

Faces of IUPUI: Abdullah Alzeer

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Abdullah Alzeer. Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

When international doctoral student Abdullah Alzeer came to IUPUI in 2012, he did so with two goals in mind: obtain his Ph.D. in health informatics from the School of Informatics and Computing and serve the Saudi community in Indianapolis while doing so. Propelled by his own experience working with a team to create a Saudi student club at Northern Kentucky University while obtaining his master's degree, Alzeer turned the then-defunct IUPUI Saudi Students Club (SSC) into an award-winning model for a successful student organization.

"The first thing I did when I came to IUPUI was look to serve the Saudi community in Indianapolis through the Saudi Club at IUPUI. I worked with the Office of International Affairs and other Saudi community members at IUPUI to revive the club," Alzeer said. "Once the organization was reactivated, my first official role was serving as the media secretary in 2012, which allowed me to work closely with several departments at IUPUI and organizations within Indianapolis."

In 2016, while also serving as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of BioHealth Informatics, Alzeer stepped into the club's top position as president. During his tenure, the club hosted more than one hundred events focused on academics, community service, personal development, social interactions, and cultural outreach. Under Alzeer's leadership, the club created an Al-Majlis, or Saudi Clubhouse, which promotes fellowship among and between IUPUI's Saudi population and the community; and it hosted Artal for more than 350 Saudi clubs and organizations around the country, featuring speaker presentations and poster sessions that showcased the importance of volunteerism and philanthropy. Another key accomplishment was the publication of the Arabic Academic Guide, a lengthy guidebook written in Arabic and designed to help fellow international students transition to the university and succeed academically.

According to Sandra Lemons, former director of international student services at IUPUI, "Abdullah is unlike many Ph.D. students I know in that he managed to excel in his academic program while at the same time dedicating an enormous amount of time and effort to other meaningful activities. He got involved on campus and in the community the day he started his program. Abdullah has a passion for community service, and during his tenure as an SSC leader, he encouraged and expanded Saudi student service in Indianapolis."

Abdullah Alzeer accepts the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the USA's top organization award for the IUPUI Saudi Students Club.
Abdullah Alzeer welcomes the audience at the Saudi Students Club awards ceremony in 2017.
Abdullah Alzeer sits outside the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex.

From top: Alzeer (center) accepts the IUPUI Saudi Students Club's award for being the nation's top organization from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the USA in 2017; Alzeer welcomes everyone to the Saudi Students Club award ceremony in 2017; Alzeer sits outside of the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex. First two photos courtesy of Abdullah Alzeer; bottom photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

The culmination of Alzeer's involvement with the IUPUI SSC came in November of 2017, when the club was honored by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission as the top Saudi Club in the United States, among hundreds of other candidates. The deciding factors in this award include commitment to community service and positive change. This tremendous honor and achievement also raised the profile of IUPUI in the Middle East.

"Some might say my biggest achievement was finishing my Ph.D. at a respected university in the U.S. Others could say it was leading the SSC to be the number one Saudi club over the other 300 clubs in the country. Personally, I think my biggest accomplishment is my six years of continuous community service and engagement. Nothing is more rewarding than receiving an unexpected email or text from one of the SSC members telling me how the club and our work impacted or made a difference to them," said Alzeer.