Alumnus describes ‘alternative path’ to English studies

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By Muhammad Hashid Jaffar

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – While finishing his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the American University of Sharjah, Mohammed Faiz Elahi decided to do something controversial.

He declared a minor in English.

A 2019 alumnus of AUS who went on to earn a master’s degree in English at McGill University in Canada, he told an audience of about a dozen people on Feb. 14 that his decision to pursue the English minor was a natural progression in his academic journey.

“I wouldn’t say I was an engineering major gone rogue,” he said, “but rather a humanities scholar who just had to find an alternative path.” 

According to Faiz, he was such an avid reader as a child that his parents discouraged him from it as his schooling system did not favor readers of literature. As an AUS engineering student, he stuck with the demanding program but also found that he excelled in his writing courses. He credited his grades in those courses with keeping him off probation. 

He took the minor on the advice of his writing professors, although not everyone around him approved.

Regardless, he said he enjoyed the courses he took in the minor and did well. After graduation in 2019, he applied for master’s programs in English at multiple universities and got into McGill. 

Throughout his talk, Faiz offered advice to AUS students in the English program considering graduate studies in the field. 

Faiz said he is currently working as a research assistant for a professor while applying for other jobs. He added that he would like to teach if given the opportunity.