Prestigious scholarship allows UAB student to enhance language proficiency

Einas Ali, a public health student, has reconnected to her Sudani roots and has gained essential intercultural skills during her study abroad trip to Dubai.

IMG 8565Einas Anwar Ali, 21, a first-generation student in the United States and a public health major at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is the recipient of the American University in Dubai’s William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship. This esteemed scholarship is awarded to students showing exemplary academic achievement and an interest in exposure to Middle Eastern and Islamic cultures. Einas studied abroad the spring 2024 semester in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she was able to improve her Arabic linguistic abilities to further her education.

“This scholarship supplements my academic pursuits, and it will allow me to expand my cultural competency to become a more conscious advocate for equitable health care access,” said Einas, an Honors College student. “It is also an opportunity to continue learning and improving my native language, Arabic, and enhance my communication skills to engage with broader audiences. My favorite things have been the safety of walking to the beach or a nearby café, the mesmerizing tall buildings with their unique architecture, the robust culture of wealth and good food, and the kind people I have met in Dubai.”

Reconnecting with her roots

Einas and her parents, who are immigrants from Sudan, longed for their trip back home for years. When they were finally eligible to visit, war erupted, causing them to cancel the trip.

“I had long awaited my family trip to Sudan to reconnect with my home, culture and lingual roots,” Einas said. “Many of our family had to flee because of the war, and many of us dealt with losses. Knowing that my home country will never be the same was challenging to cope with.”

While seeking coping opportunities to deal with these losses and pursue her interest in studying abroad, Einas stumbled upon American University in Dubai’s William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship. She grew up taking frequent trips to Dubai and knew it was the perfect chance for her to experience home because of the cultural and linguistic similarities between Dubai and Sudan.

“I thought about how Dubai has become a global melting pot with endless networking opportunities to help me grow academically and professionally,” Einas said. “And I knew that, if I pursued this, I would feel more at home.”

Einas credits Kamina Perdue, assistant director in the Office of National and International ScholarshipsEducation Abroad adviser Gabrielle Taylor; and Erika Austin, Ph.D., professor in the School of Public Health; with helping her secure this prestigious scholarship.

Bridging the language and culture gap in public health

Einas 2Einas recognizes that civilians bear the brunt of political, economic and social instabilities. Her aspiration is to mitigate this suffering through public health efforts.

“Public health is crucial for tackling issues affecting the world that include poverty in all forms — hunger, food insecurity, disease, education accessibility, natural disasters, and wars and conflicts,” Einas said. “I have a duty to contribute to progress and bring about systemic change in underserved and disadvantaged populations by ensuring equitable access to the means for individuals to actually live, and not merely survive.”

Learning in Dubai has helped Einas gain many skills that will enable her to enact reforms within global health, the ability to practice Arabic being the most noteworthy one, she says.

“Growing up in Alabama, I rarely had the chance to practice Arabic, and therefore, as the years have passed, my once strong knowledge of Arabic and writing has dwindled to the point of inability to communicate with my parents in Arabic effectively,” Einas said. “I have realized that regaining the ability to speak Arabic fluently, especially in the professional arena, will allow me to bridge the language barrier between my networks in the U.S. and the communities in the MENA region.”

Einas is already seeing promising results in her Arabic fluency as she has been practicing and learning more Arabic than she anticipated.

Einas is pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in public health, with plans to graduate in 2025. She is also pursuing a Master of Public Health degree and a Master of Business Administration degree through the Accelerated Bachelor’s Master’s Program.