Leen AlHajjar
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My Story

Leen is a recent graduate (’17) from Saudi Arabia who majored in international affairs and economics with a minor in global social entrepreneurship. She is passionate about social and development fieldwork around the world and especially in refugee host countries. She also loves cats and all types of coffee.

My Path
On a Dialogue of Civilizations program to Kenya
Why International Affairs and Economics?

The International Affairs program’s description and coursework made it the most interesting major in Northeastern’s catalog for Leen. Moreover, born to an adventurous family, she was fortunate to travel to more than twenty countries before going to college. Two of her most memorable trips were to summer school programs in Massachusetts that grew her admiration and awareness of different cultures, languages, global views and issues.

She declared the combined major with economics in her second semester because she really enjoyed the “Principles to Macroeconomics” course, and wanted to take advantage of the focus economics would add to her degree.

Transformative Coursework
  • AFRS 4939: Community Health, Culture & Development in Kenya with Professor Richard Wamai
    • “The extensive field research projects that were part of this Dialogue of Civilizations program helped me discover that I can incorporate my interest in meeting with new people and hearing their stories into my academic work.”
  • ENTR 2206: Global Social Enterprise with Professor Denis Shaughnessy
    • “This course narrowed down the concepts I had around good will and intention and organized them into tangible definitions, frameworks and country case studies which had me eventually pursue a minor in this field of study.”
  • ECON 1291: Development Economics with Professor Peter Simon
    • “This course gave me the willpower to persevere through the challenging economics coursework by showing me the potential and importance of development economists’ research in solving the most complex social problems, such as global poverty.”
Social Enterprise Abroad

In Spring of 2015, Leen took part in an alternative spring break program with the Social Enterprise Institute to the Dominican Republic (DR) focused on improving the situation for Haitian immigrants. A few months later, with tensions and mass deportations escalating across the DR, she spearheaded a fundraising campaign to support the affected community by helping them generate sustainable income through a Northeastern Catalyst fundraising project.


The Syrian Refugee Crisis

In Spring of 2016, Leen self-developed a six-month global co-op with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Amman, Jordan, where she worked on the implementation of a livelihoods project that aims at providing work opportunities for Syrian refugees. She planned her Honors in International Affairs BA thesis with her mentor, Dr. Emily Cury, accordingly – she conducted qualitative interviews with Syrian men and women seeking formal employment across the country. She is currently examining the participation of Syrian refugees in the formal Jordanian economy in her research.

“I was determined to bring the stories and voices of Syrian refugees back with me after my co-op and field research in Jordan. This motivated me to co-found a student organization called REACT: Refugee Empowerment and Awareness Campus Task Force that aims to harness the energy of college students to find tangible ways by which to get involved in refugee relief.”

Leen AlHajjar during co-op in Jordan
Forging Ahead

Today, the issue that is at the top of Leen’s mind is the global refugee crisis. To that end, she aims to leverage her academic and professional experiences to positively contribute to alleviating this humanitarian disaster. Her current plan is to find relevant opportunities in the U.S. upon graduation to develop her professional experience and take her skills to the next level, while addressing a cause she holds dearly to her heart.

This was Leen's Northeastern Pathway... Where will yours lead?
Northeastern University