Alumni of the Month January 2008

Sama Elbannan (2000 International Relations)

How did you get to where you are now?

Right after graduation in 2000, I moved to the USA to get my Masters in Organizational Communication from Murray State University in Kentucky. I moved to Boston in 2002 to work for Marriott Hotels and Resorts in Sales and Event Management.  Currently, I am an Event Manager working on organizing conferences, meetings and events at the Boston Marriott  Copley Place. I love my job very much.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

sama elbannan My biggest achievement was running the 111 Boston Marathon in April 2007. The Boston Marathon is one of the toughest road races in the world because most of it is up/down hills. When I decided to go for the Marathon, I was very unfit, unhealthy and never ran a mile in my life. I decided to run for the memory of my mother, NaNa Shaheen, who died in a hit and run accident in 2005. Mom was my source of inspiration in her life and still inspires me in her death. Running the Marathon was part of a study done by PBS TV and Tufts University. Along with 12 other determined people, we were filmed for 9 months to produce an hour long documentary on running the Marathon.  I trained for 6 month, 5 days a week and finally crossed the Finish line, which was a just a beginning to a new life. Now, I am fit and watch what I eat. It is nice to lead a health life.

And your biggest mistake?

My biggest mistake is not taking advantage of the dual programs Keele offers. I wish I had studied Law and International Politics instead of just International Relations.  However, I do not regret it, because life is full of wonderful opportunities and I can always go back to school for Law. I would have just saved myself some time.

What are your ambitions now?

My ambition is to maintain my success and become even more successful in the Event Management/Planning world. I would like to have a name as shiny as a gold pound by age of 40.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?

Event Management/Planning is a very growing industry in the USA and Europe. My advice for those who are interested in it, is to start now. The industry is growing but has not fully matured, which allows a chance of creativity and improvement.

What made you choose Keele University?

My mother wanted me to get a college degree from the UK. She valued the British education very much. At first, I was not very convinced because I wanted to stay in my home country, Egypt.  However, I did not completely reject the idea. One day, I get a call from the British Council in Cairo telling me about a College Fair. I stopped by in the last 20 minutes met with Keele University Representative, Sharn. She introduced me to Keele and a couple of months later, I was in room 11P in Howard Hall.

How has Keele influenced your life?

Keele is a beautiful memory in my life. It is where I met some of the best people ever and friends that had an impact on me. I still keep in touch with my long life friends Diane Maher (Egypt/Finland) and Marcos Kallis (Cyprus), Ulrike Lantz (Germany) and many more. On the educational level, it is so amazing to say I hold a degree from a British University, and not just any… it is Keele University.

What is your favourite memory of Keele?

I have many wonderful memories in Keele. I was the International Students’ Officer in 2000.  Definitely, organizing the International Extravaganza was the most awarding and wonderful memory. It was a huge success, thanks for all my friends and all the participant efforts. 

And your worst?

The weather. The weather. The weather.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for choosing me to the Keelite of the month. It is such an honour.