Tenacious and motivated, Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) Alumna, Michella Rustom, considers NDU the foundation upon which she has built her academic career. Now a Ph.D. candidate and Annenberg Fellow at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles – one of the world’s leading private research universities – Rustom discusses the path that led her to fulfill her dream.
What are you choosing to specialize in?
I graduated from NDU with a B.E. in Electrical Engineering with highest distinction. During my undergraduate studies, I enjoyed my classes a lot, especially those related to circuit and electronic design. I also graduated with a M.E. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the American University of Beirut where my research focused on Radio Frequency and Electromagnetism.
Here at USC, I decided to specialize in Analog/Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit Design for wireless and biomedical applications.
What does getting a fellowship entail?
I was awarded the Annenberg fellowship from the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC. Being an Annenberg fellow grants me, during the first year, the possibility to explore several research labs and to freely choose the research area I would like to specialize in.
Tell us about your time at NDU. Do you feel that you were well supported during your time here? How?
The moments I spent at NDU were the most unforgettable and blessed moments of my life. I can truly say that NDU was the foundation stone in enhancing my academic experience in Electrical Engineering, and in preparing me to navigate with passion, confidence and motivation into my graduate studies. I cannot forget the opportunities NDU offered me to compete in national competitions (i.e. engineering, literature) and to earn the highest prizes. On the social and spiritual levels, NDU offered me the possibility, through the Pastoral Work, to be effectively engaged in the community by organizing and participating in different events throughout the year. In short, I can say that NDU is my family now and forever. As a proud alumna, I will carry NDU in my heart wherever I go.
What were the main obstacles in your path? How did you overcome them?
Since my childhood, I have been motivated to pursue my graduate studies. My parents taught me to value education and put it in the first priority since they were not able to pursue their studies due to the civil war in Lebanon in 1975. Throughout my studies, I was responsible to maintain an excellent academic standing to be able to pursue the career I want. NDU played here a crucial and supportive role in providing scholarships for academic excellence.
Being a woman in engineering is also a challenge which provided me an incentive to prove myself. I decided to lead the life that I love. My passion for science and engineering motivated me to overcome any obstacle in my way.
I am also the first one in my family to embark into graduate studies outside Lebanon in the United States. Now if look back, I can say that I overcame many challenges that led me to where I am today. There are still lots of goals to accomplish and more dreams to realize. The sky’s the limit!
What would you say to students who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Dear NDUers, success is achieved by offering the best of your potential. I invite you today to be independent and to write your own success story. On your way, there will be many obstacles and challenges, many ups and downs. There will even be some doubters, but also many supporters. Keep in mind that with perseverance, hard work, and passion, you can achieve the impossible.
No matter what you will be facing, trust in God’s plan for each one of you and do not lose hope. Give your best without hesitation, and never forget what you have been offered. Be faithful and grateful to our university. And wherever you go, be a skilled fighter! Never give up and fight on!