BEIRUT: That Dima Jamali from Tripoli was one of the six women elected in May to join the 128 member parliament is yet another example of a professional life marked by overachievement.
Her journey began with the American University of Beirut, where she received her B.A., then she earned her M.A. from San Jose State University in the U.S., and later a Ph.D. in Social Policy and Administration from The University of Kent in the UK.
She returned to AUB in 2002 to officially work in the faculty, she quickly began climbing the academic ladder. Starting as an Assistant Professor, she then became a full-time Professor, an Endowed Chair, and the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Business.
“I grew up in an environment that instilled a passion in me for education and academia from the start,” said Jamali.
Her success in this field is clearly shown in the number of awards she has won. From starting off with a Teaching Excellence Award in 2006 from AUB, she continued to gain notice, winning exceptional awards such as the Abdul Hamid Shoman Prize for Best Young Arab Researcher in 2011, and the Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Award in 2015: A global award given to a professor who excels in his or her field.
After all of those achievements, her thirst for achieving wasn’t still unquenched. So, she knocked on the door of politics.
Growing up, for Jamali the field of politics was not foreign to her, since her father, Rashid Jamali, was the mayor of Tripoli. He was a much loved mayor who worked hard for the city. Her family was already known and their house was often thronged with visitors.
When the Prime Minister Saad El Hariri approached her to run with him for the Lebanese Parliament Elections of 2018, it was a new experience for her, despite the familiarity she had with the field. But, she wanted to be more engaged in it, and more engaged she became when she won the elections.
“I decided to take a year off to be able to fully adjust and comprehend my new role as a member of the parliament,” said Jamali. With a year off from academia, she will be able to focus on her new status and give the best she can.
Ultimately she would like to work hard in politics and continue her work in the academy.
As a politician and MP, she explained how she will try to improve the education sector, especially the public schools. She also shared how returning to the position of a full-time professor will be hard, while being an MP. However, she will try to keep contributing to academia, especially with her prominent position at AUB.
“When my colleagues from Europe and the US found out about the elections, they kept telling me I’m a huge loss to academia,” she said laughingly.
Mastering two fields, Jamali finds common grounds between the two, and even considers them not to be as far from one another as they seem to be. “I feel like Academia and Politics may be two separate fields but they complement each other,” Jamali told Annahar.
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