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 What Our Students Say


University student
My DBA journey started in December 2018. After a thorough research and careful planning, I decided to enroll at Durham University.

Dr Samar S. Aad
Durham DBA graduate

A journey full of challenges and hurdles

I fell in love with this university not only because it is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world but also because of its unique and historic setting. Now in July 2022 I am proud to say that I am a Durham Alumna and I hold a very prestigious degree that will be the turning point in my career. But getting this degree was not a walk in the park! It was a journey full of challenges and hurdles, but I made it to the finish line thanks to my will and the support of many people around me.

The plan I carefully crafted in 2018 included clear goals and objectives with specific deadlines. However, I failed to include the Lebanese revolution that started in 2019, the August Blast in 2020, the sudden death of my beloved dad, the collapse of the Lebanese Lira and the vanish of all our savings. But I did it. I completed my degree in less than 4 years, and I am proud. There are several factors that contributed to my success despite all those challenges:

  1. I truly believed in the program and in the need to accomplish this degree.
  2. I received clear instructions and guidelines from the Doctoral office and the Director of the Program.
  3. I was guided by the best supervisors who made sure I stayed on track and who helped me to cope with all the challenges. They allowed me to express my concerns and anxiety over all the rapid deterioration that was happening around me but also pushed me to stay focused, work hard and move forward at an accelerated speed. They helped me to engage with them in discussions and communications that led to a holistic approach to research and knowledge. My relationship with my supervisors was a collegiate teamwork.
  4. I loved the topic I was investigating and wanted to make an impact with the knowledge I generated. Covid-19 hit the Higher Education Institution harshly and it was important to understand the lessons learnt from this experience to move forward.
  5. I was surrounded by friends and colleagues that believed in me and supported me throughout the way. I was lucky to have my closest friend who reminded me to look at the big picture and to take tasks one at a time. In my lowest moments she was there to lift my spirit and put me back on track.
  6. I was supported by a great husband and two lovely daughters.

Nevertheless, my doctoral journey was very emotional. I can confidently say that it has not been easy. There were times when I cried and questioned myself why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself under so much financial and emotional pressure? There were times when I did not understand all the scientific journals I was reading, and I questioned my abilities. There were times when I had issues writing my thesis chapters and could not find the words to express myself. But I was well surrounded and supported, and I had the will and resilience to reach the end. I took advantage of each and every opportunity to develop my research, writing and thinking skills. I talked about my topic and presented it in conferences, seminars and workshops and listened to the feedback given to me by top notch researchers.

I had a mission, and this mission is now accomplished. But this is not the end. This is the beginning of new missions. My next mission is to be able to make an impact and contribute to knowledge and science. And, I want to start in my country. My country is in dire need for help as it is experiencing the worst economic crisis in its history and is losing all its brains. I want to be brave and bold and stay here where I belong. I want to try and make a difference by using my knowledge and helping in moving higher education to the next level. My Doctoral degree is my endowment that will help me sustain and move forward as it will open for me new doors and opportunities.

I want to conclude with a quote from Dr. Michel Mawad the Lebanese American University president” Hard-earned positioning is eroding on our watch and the moment to act is now before the counter-tide becomes irreversible. When survival is at stake, dare we procrastinate?”. For all doctoral students out there, when in doubt think about my story. If I did it, you can! Just think about the big picture, do not procrastinate as one day you will be called a Dr. and you will make an impact.

Dr. Samar S. Aad