Texas A&M at Qatar graduates received their diplomas this year via a visit from the dean. Between Zoom meetings and as late as 9 p.m., Texas A&M University at Qatar Dean César O. Malavé treks across Doha to visit the homes of May graduates. Joined by two other employees […]
Between Zoom meetings and as late as 9 p.m., Texas A&M University at Qatar Dean César O. Malavé treks across Doha to visit the homes of May graduates. Joined by two other employees – one drives, the other navigates – Malavé arrives to an enthusiastic scene.
The dean sometimes spends as much as an hour making a stop to have tea and coffee with his hosts. This accompanies conversations with proud parents and extended family members who drop by, followed by photos with Malavé to commemorate the day.
“Sometimes when they open the door, like today, I had three generations,” he said Wednesday. “The grandparents, uncles, parents, all the siblings, and the graduate and the fiancé of the graduate who happened to be an Aggie, were also in the room. They are so happy to see this.”
Like last May, commencement at the Qatar campus was postponed this year after a spike in COVID-19 cases shut down the possibility of an in-person ceremony. Diplomas were delivered by staff to 2020 graduates; this year, Malavé thought it would make the occasion all the more special if he made the trips himself.
So far, he’s met with about 90 graduates this month, taking only a few days off for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. Next week, Malavé will wrap up presenting degrees to all 105 Aggies who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees this year.
An administrator for about 20 years – he served as a professor and head of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the flagship campus in College Station – Malavé described the opportunity to meet with students and their families as an honor, and one of the most rewarding experiences he’s had.
Malavé said he has delivered diplomas to both mansions and modest homes — and has met with parents who ” work really hard and save a lot of money so their kids can come to a school like Texas A&M,” he added. For Malavé, being able to see students in this environment has been a reminder of his responsibility as an administrator; he has an obligation to deliver a top education to students “whose families are trusting us with the most valuable resource they have – their kids.”
“They are so grateful that a school like Texas A&M is here in Qatar,” he said. “Especially the parents of our women graduates. The dads or brothers come to the door and you can see in their eyes that this is something they never dreamed of.”
Many of the graduates already have jobs lined up, Malavé said, most in oil and gas – the key industry in Qatar.
“What I have enjoyed the most is to see the faces of the grandparents,” he said. “Today, the grandma wanted to take a picture with the degree – because to them, this is a degree that they have all earned.”