Perhaps the best indicator of a quality education is the success a school’s graduates experience at the next level. TedXDouglasville founder and leader, Mahdi Al-Husseini, graduated with an IB Diploma from Douglas County High School and is currently in his final year at Georgia Tech, pursing a Bachelor’s degree in Bio-Medical Engineering. After graduating, he will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army where he plans to be an aeromedical evacuations helicopter pilot flying a Sikorsky Black Hawk. This role entails being responsible for expediently evacuating battlefield casualties to nearby combat support hospitals.
I had the privilege of teaching Mahdi for two years in IB’s critical thinking course, Theory of Knowledge. We have maintained our friendship, and it has been a joy to see him flourish in his college years. I asked him some questions about his success at Georgia Tech and his experience in bringing a TedX conference to his hometown.
Tell me about your success at GT. What are some achievements you are proud of?
Though fortunate to be on the receiving end of many excellent opportunities internships and awards, my greatest success at Georgia Tech has been learning to love engineering. I entered Georgia Tech with the intention to complete a degree in engineering, and then move into either medicine or policy. How things have changed! The thrill of problem solving drew me in, and I have not looked back since.
Looking back, which aspects of your DCSS education were most valuable in preparing you to succeed in college?
Writing and critical thinking. This may come as a surprise, given that I attend an engineering school. However, the technical nature of the biomedical curriculum means that most of your peers can solve equations and draw diagrams – but not many can write. Additionally, engineering is essentially problem solving, and problem solving requires critical thinking.
How and why did you start TEDxDouglasville? How has this helped you grow?
I began TEDxDouglasville to give back to the community that raised me. As licensed organizer, I oversee the development and direction of fellow young people tackling specialized roles including executive production, graphic design, and sponsorship management. More than a million YouTube views after our first event in 2015, TEDxDouglasville has engaged thirty-two high school and collegiate volunteers with their community, inspired and contributed towards the development of the Douglas Youth Department (DYD) and Progressive Action towards the Health of Douglasville (PATH), partnered with industry giants Google and Walmart, and has selected an additional twelve speakers to present to audience members in 2016 and 2017. With each new event, our team rediscovers the fulfillment of public service, and sets precedent for even younger members to make tangible community changes.
My success with TEDxDouglasville has been helping youth shape their community. In turn, my engagement has assisted me in developing excellent leadership qualities, and interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills to reach even higher goals.
Thank you to Mahdi and the TedXDouglasville team, which mostly consists of DCSS alumni, for affording our community excellent opportunities for lifelong learning through this program. Your work among us will be missed!