Texas Tech University

Fulbright Scholar Plans to Give Back After Completing Degree

Emily Gardner

November 20, 2015

Ahmed Ali is a first-year master’s student in digital design and fabrication from Iraq.

Ahmed Ali

Before becoming a Fulbright scholar, Ahmed Ali was a research assistant at University of Duhok in Iraq. Now, his goal is to build a relationship between Duhok and Texas Tech University's digital architecture programs in the College of Architecture.

“I needed to expand my knowledge and try to develop the architecture department at Duhok through studying abroad,” the master's student in architecture with a digital design and fabrication specialization said. “I want to take this chance to expand my knowledge and try to bring new knowledge back home to take the architectural department at Duhok a step further.”

Ali plans to specialize in parametric urbanism, and said he wants to help revitalize Lubbock's downtown area to give back to Lubbock and the Fulbright scholarship.

Originally from a small city in north Iraq called Dohok-Kurdistan, Ali said the city has changed, becoming a growing tourist industry and increasing its population. Dohok is part of Iraqi Kurdistan and its population is mostly composed of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian people.

Ali said he remembers the Newroz celebration, where Kurdish people started a fire as a sign for freedom.

“People go on picnics, attend dance events, and we try to make people happy through gifts, dances and clothes during this day,” he said. “Iraq is in crisis now, and I believe the best way to end theses crises is through opening work opportunities in new fields like digital technologies.”

Ali's Fulbright scholarship has allowed him to be in the United States for about six months, and he said it has exposed him to the diversity and individualism of the United States he believes allows for peaceful living.

Although there is diversity in Iraq, Ali believes the United States' ability to promote individualism is what sets it apart. He thinks if his home country would adopt that same mentality, it would result in a more productive country.

“Here people live in peace,” Ali said. “I believe the reason is the individualism they have compared to the collectivism society we have as Kurdish people. The mentality and life system in the United States, where everyone has specific responsibilities and duties as part of a productive society, is admirable. We can try to inspire this complex system and apply it back home as a potential way to develop the society.”

Ali had an offer to study at Michigan State University with a work contract but chose to attend Texas Tech instead because of its diverse community and its digital design and fabrication program.

He applied for the Fulbright scholarship twice before being accepted because it is such a competitive program, he said, receiving the scholarship the second time through the application process. Ali was one of 10 scholarship recipients in Iraq to receive the 2015-17 Fulbright scholarship.

“The Fulbright scholarship is more than a chance for developing knowledge,” Ali said. “It focuses on building creative alumni who believe they can change the world to be a better place. I feel a heavy duty as a scholar because there are a lot of expectations and goals.” 

The faculty and staff at Texas Tech and the community, Ali said, push him to become a better scholar.

Lori Rodriguez, a graduate adviser in architecture, and Maria Perbellini, associate dean for graduate programs, are two of those faculty and staff members.

“The DDF department is an advanced department with alumni faculties that give me a chance to develop my knowledge,” he said. “The relationships the department has around the world open new opportunities to develop my future career. Everything is big in the state of Texas and dreaming big is part of the community at Texas Tech.”

Rodriguez said she helped Ali through the graduate admission process and continues to provide guidance involving his classes and enrollment.

Although Ali is only in his first semester at Texas Tech, Perbellini said he shows promise and has had to overcome challenges involving language and cultural barriers.

“We believe Ahmed will gain both a cultural and an academic experience to strengthen his skills in architecture,” she said. “He is very excited to be here and is serious and committed to enhancing his knowledge. The College of Architecture is delighted to have him in our masters of science program.”