Doctorate at 20 for Saudi Girl

Judy Al-Bakr & Edward Flood, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2005-05-16 03:00

RIYADH, 16 May 2005 — A young Saudi woman, Nora Al-Mansoury, is a can-do, high-spirited 20-year-old. She got both her BA and MBA while she was still in her teens. She is now about to get her Ph.D. from the Queen Mary College, University of London.

“I was a student in My Little House School and when I was in the second year of intermediate school, my mother suggested that I enroll in IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education). I agreed and managed to graduate at 15 — with straight As,” Nora said.

IGCSE is for mature international students. The system enables students to get their high school diploma (secondary school certificate) in one year. The exams take place at the British Council and the certificate enables students to enter most colleges and universities. My Little House School in Jeddah is one of the schools that prepares its students for the exams.

Having completed her secondary certificate, Nora went to Dar Al-Hekma in Jeddah where she graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems. Because of the quality of her work, she was offered a scholarship to do postgraduate work in London. “My parents encouraged me to benefit from this opportunity, especially my mother who stood by me all the way,” Nora stated.

Dr. Nadia Baeshen, a staff member at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz University and a part-time lecturer at Dar El-Hekma, was one of Nora’s tutors. She said: “Nora is an outstanding young girl; her manners, character, interests are different from the rest of the class. She had the ability to understand the lesson before the other students did. She is not bound by the curriculum. She is able to do her own research from books and on the Internet.”

Nora talked about her life in London: “My experience living abroad and away from my family has taught me valuable lessons. I now have a more balanced perspective toward life. I am independent and able to make my own decisions without relying on my family.”

She goes on to say, however, “I have had my ups and downs while living in London but now I have formed a second family there and I do not feel as homesick as I once did.”

Nora said proudly, “My primary goal is to be the Kingdom’s first woman energy minister.”

Nora plans to serve her country and help its development as much as possible. “I want to fund a technological and science research center with Saudi scientists as members. I would also like for the center to develop strong relationships with other centers around the world.”

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