Planets, galaxies, nebulae, astrophysics, and space may all sound daunting, but not for Nouran Maher Alyousif, who has always dreamed of studying and being part of this field. With the Distinctive College Prep Program, she was able to take the first steps in turning her dreams into a reality. She shares her experience with the program and her journey toward breaking through the stratosphere of success.
Mohammed bin Salman Foundation "Misk" aspires to nurture the country's future thinkers by providing them with every opportunity to study and flourish in their chosen disciplines. One of the plethoras of initiatives, programs, and fellowships offered is the Distinctive College Prep Program.
It’s always been my dream to study at a top US university, and I saw the Distinctive College Prep Program as a step to help me achieve that goal. In addition, after talking to students who were in the previous cohort of this program, I knew that I would benefit greatly from this opportunity to receive testing preparation, support on extracurricular activities, and encouragement to pursue a summer program abroad.
Most importantly, the drive and commitment of the students in the previous cohort inspired me to challenge myself by following this program. Previously known as the College Prep Program, it provides each student with a college counselor who aids them in enhancing their university applications through extracurricular activities.
Students are provided expert SAT preparation training and the opportunity to attend a summer program in the US or UK. Students can apply during the 10th grade and, if accepted, will be supported by Misk till they graduate high school.
On a personal level, the Distinctive college prep program has made me a more committed, self-disciplined, and motivated individual. On a professional level, the resources the program has provided shaped me to be a more qualified candidate for universities.
I plan on pursuing a degree in astrophysics and working in the space sector, and the most memorable experience for me within this program was participating in the Research Science Institute, which is a competitive 6-week research program hosted by MIT and CEE for high school students.
To have the opportunity to apply for this program as an international student, you have to be sponsored by an organization. Misk nominated me and provided me the chance to apply for this amazing program.
I got accepted and had the opportunity to participate in an astrophysics research project with a mentor from the MIT Klaiv Institute of Astrophysics. It was an incredibly wonderful experience that expanded the way I looked at astrophysics and research.
The ultimate goal for me is to aid in the development of the space sector and the enhancement of space science research in Saudi Arabia. I aspire to one day implement a space science curriculum in secondary education.
This past October, I was invited to give a speech at NATO's "MENA: Space Capabilities and Security" Space Conference. It was an honor to interact with MENA leaders in the space sector, and I'm confident that MENA's space aspirations will become a reality. I greatly appreciate the support Misk extended to me during my time at the Distinctive College Prep Program.
In conclusion, I would say If you’re interested in the Distinctive College Prep Program, please apply even if you have doubts about the likelihood of receiving an acceptance. Don’t allow your fear of rejection to stand in the way of your success.
Many students in the program didn’t think they would be accepted. Most importantly, remember that regardless of the outcome, you will get far in life if you’re a dedicated and hardworking individual.
“When I was younger many people told me that I shouldn't pursue astrophysics because of the lack of opportunities in Saudi Arabia, but today that's changing. The Saudi Space Commission has started unveiling new programs and activities. In the future, I will be able to contribute to the growing space sector in Saudi Arabia. So, don't hesitate to follow your ambitions, even if they're not common today, because you will be the change that tomorrow needs”