Hana Omar is the first female student from Saudi Arabia to obtain a PhD from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. A former teaching and graduate assistant in the College of Education, she earned both an interdisciplinary certificate in disability and diversity studies and a doctorate degree in educational technology from the College of Education. Omar received her PhD in summer 2014.
She has been an active international conference participant, volunteering and presenting at conferences in Malaysia, Canada, Belgium, Qatar, the U.S. and elsewhere.
In 2012, Omar was among 15 women selected for diplomatic work for Saudi Arabian women in the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With language fluency in Arabic, English and basic French, she began serving as a diplomat after eight months of training in international policy, economics and diplomacy. In this role, she will serve in Saudi foreign embassies and consulates worldwide.
“During my years at UH, I learned to be a leader, teacher, researcher, designer and multicultural,” she said. “I also expanded my creativity and ambition. These elements impacted me to focus on humanitarian issues in order to make the world a better place.”
Omar is the founder and president of the Islamic Society at UH Mānoa as well as a member of Lovers of South Asian Culture, a registered independent organization. Drawing on her background in disability studies and educational technology, her dissertation was titled A Grounded Theory Study to Evaluate the Use of Community-Based Technologies to Enhance the Educational Experience for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students in Higher Education.
Attributing much of her academic success to the support and mentorship of College of Education faculty members, Omar hopes to obtain a post-doctoral position or work for a year in an international organization. She expressed her gratitude particularly to Catherine Fulford, Ellen Hoffman and Megan Conway. “Dr. Omar is definitely one of my all-time best students. She is smart, curious, interested, involved, conscientious and a hard worker. She will be a success and an asset in whatever she chooses to do,” said Fulford.
—By Jennifer Parks