Rana Alrabeh studied computer engineering at Boston University as part of the KGSP program but fell in love with neuroscience.
“When I started my master’s at KAUST, I didn’t want a degree in computer science,” said Alrabeh. “After learning that Professor Pierre Magistretti was a neuroscientist, I decided to switch to a biology degree while I could, but my only background in that field was from high school, so it was a big leap from the start.”
“Fortunately, KAUST’s small class sizes helped me gain the knowledge I needed to pursue a thesis in computational neuroscience,” she said. “After my first presentation on a biology paper, my confidence in the subject matter and my desire to pursue neuroscience grew tremendously.”
Alrabeh received her master’s degree in 2017 and had to figure out her next move.
“I still loved the subjects I studied but did not feel a career in academia was for me,” she says. “I started finding my own way through the IT world in Saudi. In my free time, I founded a mental health tech startup and learned a lot about business and how to use technology to make an impact. Then I stumbled on an unexpected job opportunity with the World Bank Group.”
Mid-2020, a job in a faraway location required some risk-taking, and Alrabeh was up for the challenge.
“While the job was in IT, they were looking for candidates with a master’s in communication and two years of experience,” said Alrabeh. “I didn’t have either, but I did have confidence and transferable skills that I had gained at KAUST, so I applied.”
After demonstrating some of her transferrable communication skills in the interview, she was offered the position and moved to Washington DC.
“I had to travel by way of evacuation flights between the US and Saudi due to COVID,” she said. “The company expected to go back to in-person work, but that did not happen for two years, so it was tough to meet people initially.”
Since then, Alrabeh has made friends and continued with the World Bank Group as an Innovative Solutions Engineer. However, she recently made the decision to leave and pursue another passion.
“I would have needed to learn more about loans and finance to be truly successful there, and I was not interested in developing that niche, so I decided to leave and apply my knowledge and skills elsewhere,” said Alrabeh. “Throughout my career, I found myself making big changes and taking large leaps. I think that making a drastic change and succeeding is an important skill in today’s changing world. I now use this skillset to help others succeed in their own career transitions.”
Alrabeh also leads the initiative to establish the North American Alumni Chapter, with the goal to have infrastructure in place for KAUST to officially launch the regional network in Spring 2023.
“KAUST alumni have such a strong connection, and I love the community feel we all bring to the group,” she said. “We can develop strong professional relationships years after graduation. Leading this chapter feels like a perfect way to give back to KAUST and a way I can offer my help as a career coach to fellow alumni.”
Rana Alarabeh (MS ’17) – by Melissa Pappas