Orange Family Legacy: From Saudi Arabia to SU

Collage6-19I am going to be honest, I did not know about Syracuse University growing up like many of the family legacies you have read and heard before. In fact, the very first time I came to know about SU and the city of Syracuse was while reading a novel, which did not describe Syracuse as a sunny bright city. Yet, the description made me curious to look up Syracuse and why it does not have a lot of sunshine and know more about it. I found out that Syracuse is known for its record-breaking snow. For someone from Saudi Arabia, I could not imagine being in an Antarctic-like region. I felt a sudden need to experience living in the snow globe that is Syracuse. Our family’s path to SU was not as direct for all of us, me and my older brother had to have our own experiences before settling in Syracuse.

Our Orange family legacy did not start with me. Soon after I knew that Syracuse University existed, my older brother Saud Alshegry ’10, who was studying at Kansas State University at the time, informed us that he wanted to transfer to Syracuse University. It almost felt as if the novel I read guided our path to Syracuse. In Fall 2008, Saud started his first semester at SU. He studied accounting at Whitman and graduated in 2010 with his bachelor’s degree. I still remember his first visit back home that was filled with stories about the amazing professors who taught him. We were all excited to hear about his experience. My other brother, Sultan, who initially did not want to study abroad, decided to attend SU as well. Taking a different path, Sultan majored in economics and minored in philosophy. He graduated in 2014.

My journey to Syracuse was different. After graduating from high school in 2008, I decided to be with my friends and attended a local college in Saudi Arabia. Yet, during my first year, something did not feel right. I had a feeling that I needed to be someplace else. I was still dreaming of the snow globe I wanted to live in and my brothers’ stories made me more eager to take a chance and experience something new. With my brothers in Syracuse, it was not hard to convince my family to send me abroad to study. I still remember vividly my very first days in Syracuse. I arrived December 29, 2010, and the city was filled with snow above the knees. It was the first time I fell in love with snow.

A few days after my arrival, Saud finished his undergraduate career. Sultan and I were not alone for long; during the summer my younger brother, Faisal, decided to join us. The winter challenged Faisal, at one time he thought about transferring to a warmer place, but he soon made peace with the cold weather and decided to stay and experience it. It made it easier for us that we were all in the same place. We did not feel homesick since we were all together and did not miss our family moments because we created our own memorable experiences here in Syracuse. We were able to have our home away from home.

It is funny how we all unexpectedly ended up here in Syracuse and chose our majors. Sultan and Faisal both got their bachelor’s degree in economics. I initially wanted to major in finance, but, after taking my very first accounting class, I decided to follow my brother’s footstep and major in accounting as well as finance. I did not want to limit myself with one major.

After declaring my major and beginning the CPA track, I knew I had to complete my studies to fulfil the 150-credit requirement for the NY CPA license. I knew from the start that I wanted to continue at SU and there is not any place else I would rather be. A number of my friends asked me why I decided to stay in the same place and not experience somewhere else. For me, I still have not had enough snow, and with Syracuse often being the number one city in the US for snow fall, I wanted to stay. I was not ready to leave, yet, and I do not regret my decision. I was not alone either. Sultan, too, wanted to stay and continue his studies. He earned his master’s in information management and security in 2016.

May 14, 2016, was a day my family will never forget. It was the day the three of us–Sultan, Faisal and I–graduated from SU. My parents were not able to fly to Syracuse, but they made sure to watch us live via the livestream. My brothers and I were running around campus to catch each other’s graduation and taking pictures of each other and sharing them with our family through Whatsapp. Not only my immediate family members were celebrating, but all of our extended family from my mother’s and father’s side.

To this day, I recommend SU to anyone who asks me about studying aboard. I have met incredible people, seen amazing places and experienced new things. SU has its own charm that will be with my family forever. I hope one day our family legacy will continue and expand.

Shihnaz Alshegry
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