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Oddai Gharib, Class of 2020

A native of Jordan, Oddai Gharib began his journey at State in 2016 as an international student learning to speak English, while simultaneously working toward a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Now, he is a fluent English speaker scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2020, with plans to become a cardiac surgeon.
While being in a new country can often lead to a sense of culture shock, Oddai is quick to praise the welcoming nature of the Mountain State. “The culture in the United States feels more professional than Jordan,” he says, “And West Virginians are much friendlier than other states I visited.”
Oddai’s ties to West Virginia - and to WVSU - are a result of strong family connections. He is related to the Ghareebs, a well-known family of medical professionals with clinics located throughout the Kanawha Valley. “The family that I had over here had a lot of people who graduated from WVSU,” he says.
One of the most memorable experiences for Oddai was during his first semester, when he had only been in the United States for two months and was bracing for his first chemistry test while still learning English. “Surprisingly, on the day that the professor gave out the scores, I found out that I got the highest grade in the class out of 35 students,” he says. “Since that day, I told myself that I can’t use English being a second language as an excuse.”

And he certainly hasn’t. Oddai’s determination has translated into a wealth of activities and leadership opportunities across campus, including the American Chemical Society (ACS) student chapter. In 2018, he received a national student leadership award from ACS due to his hard work. 

Oddai credits a lot of his work ethic to organic chemistry professor Dr. Michael Fultz.

“That class changed the way I define a student,” he says. “If the professor is extremely passionate about the class and putting in all this effort, then I would feel guilty if I didn’t challenge myself to be on his level. That class made me sure I wanted to be a chemist.”

Being an international student can come with its own challenges. Learning the culture of a country is an unseen struggle that most people don’t realize international students face. Oddai found that learning the culture, subcultures and the slang of another country is one of the most daunting tasks he has faced in the United States. So what advice does he have for State’s growing population of international students?

“No matter where you’re from, no matter what your culture, no matter any of these things, it’s about the heart you bring with you,” he says.
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