Student Spotlight

Middle East to Mid-East: The story of Amal Yayah

Amal Yayah’s journey from her hometown of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to OSU began when she was recruited by Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University. “They recruited me to work for them, and one of the requirements for my sponsorship was that I had to study abroad for both my master’s and my Ph.D.” 

It was quite the challenge that Yayah faced, and quite the time commitment. 

“It was going to take me three years at least to get a traditional master’s degree,” she said, “and then on top of that I was required to undergo a Ph.D. program, which was probably going to be five years. So I was looking at a total of at least eight years of study.” 

That is, until her search led her to Oklahoma State University, and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

“I was scrolling the Internet and found that with OSU, I could get my master’s in microbiology in one year. I thought it was an amazing opportunity to study and at the same time, get exposed to the environment as well as get to know the professors and the faculty.” 

The accelerated master’s program was no easy task, however. 

“I was excited but the thing I discovered was that time was my worst enemy,” Yayah said. “It was very intensive, but at the same time, I got used to the pace of a Ph.D. program, even while working on my master’s. I got acclimated to working under pressure, which prepared me for the stresses of higher education.” 

Another benefit to her master’s program was exposure to various research subjects and specializations. 

“The courses exposed me to very advanced-level knowledge of microbiology, and it helped me chose the focus of my research,” she said. “When I first started, I was more into virology and immunology. After taking these courses, I found myself falling more in love with bacteriology, which is why I’m now in Dr. Patrauchan’s lab.” 

Now a microbiology Ph.D. student, Yayah attributes a large portion of her success to the staff and faculty. 

“The faculty are amazing, and the campus is relaxing and very beautiful,” she said. “My favorite thing in the world is watching the sunset from the top floor of the Student Union. I also love the library. I probably spend more time there than at home.”

What are her plans for the future? 

“I plan on going back home,” she said with a confident smile, “and working for the university that recruited me.”