Hana Omar, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education doctoral student and former graduate assistant for the Center on Disability Studies, was selected to serve as a woman diplomat for a newly created program in the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Omar has been in the College of Education since 2008, earning an interdisciplinary certificate in disability and diversity studies and working on her PhD in educational technology.
One of 15 women, including a Saudi Arabian princess, Omar was selected out of 30,000 candidates. “Now is a great time in Saudi Arabia for the women’s movement,” said Omar. “Many government sectors, like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have opened their doors for women.”
Omar is currently at the Diplomacy Institute in Riyadh, the country’s capital city, where she will undergo eight months of training in language, international policy and diplomacy. Once she has completed the training, she will be eligible to serve the Saudi Arabian government in foreign embassies and consulates worldwide.
Assistant Professor Megan Conway, who supervised Omar as a graduate assistant at the Center on Disability Studies, said, “Hana is a bright and confident young woman. I am not surprised she has been given an opportunity like this, and I am sure she will do well with wherever her career takes her.”
Criteria for selection were based on Omar’s language proficiency and personality in an interview. In addition to Arabic, Omar speaks English fluently and is studying French at the institute. While she does not know how long she will work in the ministry before going abroad, she hopes her assignments include the United States where she has become familiar with the culture and is completing her PhD.
—by Jennifer Parks, communications coordinator, College of Education