In the shoes of three students this fall

Zixiang ‘Max’ Chen

Sophomore majoring in international business, economics and public policy in the GW School of Business
From: Princeton, N.J.

Not many freshmen can say their project was featured on national television.

Zixiang ‘Max’ Chen, a sophomore in the GW School of Business, is interested and committed to both business and environmental sustainability.

“The reason I study business is because of my belief in the importance of the triple bottom line: planet, profit and people,” Chen said.

Last March, Chen went to Greensburg, Kan. with Alternative Spring Break to film the town that was heavily destroyed after a 2007 tornado. Chen chose Greensburg because of his interest in sustainable development.

Greensburg has the most LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certified buildings per capita in the world, according to the town’s website.

“I wanted to be a messenger to share the big story of this small town with everyone,” Chen said.

The film aired nationally in a June episode of PBS’ “Nightly Business Report.”

Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, assisted Chen, by connecting him with Planet Forward, which taught Chen how to film and interview and helped edit the footage.

“Max took us to a place where we could see through his lens the human spirit that is resilient and determined to repair and rebuild,” Sesno said.

Chen spent this past summer as a Water Intern for the GW Office of Sustainability and as the Online Communications Intern for Planet Forward. He also placed as a top ten finalist in the Business Wire College Contest and is attending the World Bank conference on Climate Change and Constructive Entrepreneurship.

This semester Chen will serve his role as the director of programming for Green GW, where he hopes to organize many sustainability-related events.


Nora Elsheikh

Senior majoring in international politics and Middle Eastern studies in the Elliott School of International Affairs
From: Wayne, Pa. and Cairo, Egypt

The street kids of Egypt inspire senior Nora Elsheikh.

Denied the chance to have an education, the estimated 200,000 to 1 million Egyptian children – a number from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – who live on the streets, made Elsheikh thankful for her opportunities.

“I realized how blessed I was to be given both a quality and enjoyable education. This is of course compared to the youth I see in Egypt,” Elsheikh said.

Elsheikh, who originally came to D.C. to pursue politics, now is focusing on international development and education. She is determined to create schools in Egypt that serve as sanctuaries for kids in areas with high unemployment and population rates.

“It will be simple, and will be in line with the cultures and religious beliefs of a typical Egyptian family and I know that I want to make technology a big part of the curriculum,” Nora said.

Last semester, Elsheikh worked with professor Nathan Brown as an undergraduate research scholar in the Elliott School of International Affairs studying the quality of higher education in Egypt.

“It was an exciting time to be working on Egypt for her, and for me to be reading her work that went beyond the dramatic headlines in Tahrir Square to the daily problems of those youth seeking jobs and a high quality education,” Brown said.

This semester, Elsheikh will blog for Bon Education, an international education consulting company based out of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Elsheikh researches and writes about the crossroads of education, technology and emerging markets.


Adam Akkad

Junior majoring in biology in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
From: Albuquerque, N.M.

As Adam Akkad’s peers were trying to get through middle school, the 14-year-old began researching cures for cancer.

Akkad said he was always curious about the world of science, prompting him to compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest international high school science competition with over 1,500 student participants, and the International Sustainable World Energy Engineering Environment, winning fourth and second places, respectively.

Akkad, who came to GW to study biology with a minor in religion, will spend the fall researching under Aleksander Jermic. Akkad has been working independently under Jermic’s research grant, to find ways to inhibit cellular migration and invasion in cancerous pancreatic cells.

After completing his bachelors degree, Akkad plans on going to medical school. Akkad hopes to help the underprivileged by setting up a Doctors Without Borders mission in Palestine.

“My ultimate goal is to start medical charity for Palestinians lacking sufficient medical care in Palestine. I feel it is the best profession to make concrete differences in the lives of others on a daily basis,” Akkad said.

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