Donna AlSudairi ’11

Major in International Business Administration

Coming from a small, sheltered high school I knew I needed a place that provided a smooth and comfortable transition into college life. AUP seemed like a perfect fit. A liberal arts university in the center of Paris, with a diverse student population and small classrooms – AUP was exactly what I was looking for.

I started off as an International Comparative Politics (ICP) major, trying to follow in my father’s footsteps, but soon realized that it was not meant to be. After taking a few business and math courses, I ended up majoring in International Business Administration (IBA) and kept ICP as a minor, along with Entrepreneurship, which had just been added as a field of study.

While studying ICP and IBA, I was able to study with so many memorable professors. My thoughts immediately go to professor Dianne Bonneau, who I must credit for the passion I developed towards the IBA program. She is extremely talented at making you try your hardest and achieve what you didn’t even know possible. Her Introduction to Financial Accounting course is still so vivid in my memory that when I ended up taking a similar course nearly five years later at Sciences Po in Paris, it was her voice in my head that got me through the course with top marks while others were struggling. I also think of Professor Emeritus Farhad Nomani and his Introduction to Macroeconomics, which gave me the solid foundation I needed for any economics classes or discussions that would later come my way.

When I got to AUP I was thrilled to discover the University newspaper and joined right away... I didn’t know it then but it was a very important part of my preparation for my career

Donna AlSudairi Alumna '11

AUP is an ideal environment for your personal and professional development because you aren’t just another student number in the system: your contributions and involvement really matter and there is so much support available to you. From the beginning, I was committed to student life at AUP. I was actively participating in the Student Government Association (SGA), including stints as the SGA Communications Director, the Clubs Committee Director, and the IBA Department Representative. In retrospect, being the SGA Communications Director gave me my first taste of communications, a time that provided me with some of my fondest memories at AUP.

I was also a staff writer for the former University newspaper, The Planet, which was my first experience in journalism! I always loved to write. I remember as far back as middle school when I would save my essay assignments for the weekend because I did not consider them homework. I didn’t have many opportunities to write before I came to AUP because my school, other than essay assignments, did not have any writing outlets, such as a newspaper or a blog. When I got to AUP I was thrilled to discover the University newspaper and joined right away. I wrote a few articles over the years, with subjects ranging from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a review of chocolate shops in Paris in preparation for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t know it then but it was a very important part of my preparation for my career.

After AUP, I wanted to work for a little while before doing a Master’s. By then I was interested in communications and so I took a two-year job at Saint-Gobain in Paris as a Communications Associate for their packaging sector. It was a really enriching experience. I particularly enjoyed writing and editing communication content. I then went on to complete my Master’s in Communications Studies at Sciences Po Paris and by then I was certain I wanted to pursue a career in journalism. Upon graduating, I heard that the Wall Street Journal was looking to hire someone in Saudi Arabia to keep up with the country’s dynamic changes and, well, the rest is history.

Today, I write content for the Wall Street Journal at a time when Saudi Arabia is going through major social and economic changes. There is a big focus on telling those stories through different lenses, especially in regards to the evolving role of women in society. The ban on women driving has been lifted and women will start driving in June, so there is a lot to write about and discuss with regards to this development. It is very exciting to be a part of such an important moment in Saudi women’s history.