If not for the good work of an international recruiter, Munir Sayegh '11 wouldn't be here.
An international recruiter brought Sayegh's father, Atallah, from his native Palestine to Hesston College in Kansas in 1979. Two years later, Atallah transferred to Kansas State in nearby Manhattan, where he met his future wife, Gwen.
Munir was born in Wichita, Kan., a few years later, starting down a path that led to an undergraduate career at St. Ambrose. Now, a serendipitous twist in that path has led him back to SAU as his alma mater's first full-time international recruiter.
"It's kind of funny how things have come full circle for my family," Sayegh said. "I always knew I wanted to do something to be a bridge between the United States and the Middle East."
Sayegh spent a year in Egypt as a US Fulbright student between his junior and senior years at St. Ambrose. His busy passport already included numerous stamps from the Middle East. Growing up, he frequently visited his father's family in Jordan.
As an SAU undergrad, he also spent a study abroad semester in Morocco.
Now, he will travel the world in search of new Ambrosians as SAU builds on recent efforts to grow its international student population.
John Cooper, vice president for enrollment management, said Sayegh was a perfect fit for the position. "His knowledge and passion for St. Ambrose, combined with his experience internationally, make him the perfect person to get this important initiative launched," Cooper said.
The plan is to increase the number of international students to 120 within the next three years. Sayegh said the current total of 72 international students represents just 1.3 percent of SAU's total enrollment, while US colleges and universities average 3 percent.
Sayegh, who traveled to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in September and to China in October, speaks English and French—his SAU minor—as well as two dialects of Arabic. He is certain the value of the St. Ambrose experience will translate across the globe. And he is confident new and diverse student perspectives will prove valuable here at home.
"It would be an enriching experience for our students," he said. "International students bring different culture to campus. It is a good initiative all-around."