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Valparaiso University graduate student Wissam Shahin, a Fulbright Scholar from Syria, is working as a summer intern with the Regional Bureau for Arab States, part of the United Nations Development Programme. Shahin assists the UNDP’s resources management adviser and will work with the Bureau Directorate in New York City through August.

A student in Valparaiso University’s international economics and finance graduate program, Shahin will put his classroom-learned skills to work analyzing balance sheets and macroeconomic indicators, presenting forecasts for development and management projects and researching and providing information for best practices in the area of shared services and audit.

“What really motivates me to pursue a career in this field is that I am from a region that has plenty of economic advantages, but there is still a high percentage of poverty, unemployment and other social and economic problems,” Shahin said. “I am planning to occupy a position where I can help to decrease the economic and social suffering of people in this region and in the world.”

Previously, Shahin worked with the United Nations in Syria before coming to Valpo to pursue graduate studies. He chose to attend Valpo because of the University’s academic reputation and close proximity to both Chicago and Indianapolis. He also wanted to further his knowledge of finance and economics. He’s done just this, while also strengthening his passion for creating positive change in the world.

“It has been a great experience dealing with such a professional, multinational staff at the UNDP,” Shahin said. “Also, it has been interesting to see how UNDP Headquarters works very closely with the economic and political leaderships of developing countries.”

Shahin said he has developed the financial reporting and data analysis skills he has learned in his finance, math and economics courses at Valpo. He has also advanced his reporting and writing skills, which he says will help improve his papers for future classes. Shahin will return to campus in August for his final semester before graduating from Valpo in December.

“Wissam is a bright, articulate and motivated student,” said Jaishankar Raman, associate professor of economics and director of special international initiatives, who was recently appointed as assistant provost for internationalization.

As Valparaiso University seeks to expand its internationalization efforts, students will have increasing opportunities to expand their cultural worldview and develop as globally savvy leaders prepared for a competitive economic climate.

“The most interesting thing for me is the wonderful cultural experience at Valpo,” Shahin said. “Valpo has definitely expanded my knowledge about other cultures.”