If Civil Engineering students were to jot down the survival kit needed to make it through the intense four years at AUB, the first bullet point would be Zakiya Deeb, who became the Administrative Assistant at the CEE Department of AUB in 1993.
Deeb has been an active member of the AUB community since she earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the Lebanese University.
Her weekday at the office starts at 7:30 a.m., when students and professors begin flooding in, one after the other, looking for solutions to their various problems or inquiries.
Deeb deals with students’ issues that range from application acceptances to course inquiries. Students who apply for a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at AUB, for example, will have their applications initially inspected and filtered out by Deeb, who then passes them on to a committee of professors, which then agrees on the final decision.
During the particularly hectic period of course registration, Deeb’s office, phone, and email find no moment of serenity. When asked about the most infuriating part about the registration system, Deeb said that it is not the system, but the students that make registration a hectic procedure.
“When students demand to register for a course with a certain professor, and refuse to take the same course with a different professor, this is where the problem initiates,” said Deeb. “Also, why do students insist on taking advanced level courses, when they haven’t even registered for their current required courses? Maintaining a good GPA is essential, but it should not be at the cost of learning and enjoying the courses taken,” stated Deeb.
One additional ongoing and unpleasant process, according to Deeb, is the influence of older students on younger ones with regards to the choice of courses to be taken. She finds that older students’ ‘personal experiences’ instill fear and distrust towards certain courses or professors, even before the younger students experience the courses themselves.
“Students need to worry less; it is not how much you score on a course, but how much you learn from it that matters,” Deeb said firmly. This is also what she constantly tells her two daughters, one of whom is a senior at IC and is aiming to pursue a Civil Engineering degree at AUB next year.
With two kids and a full-time job, Deeb finds no problem balancing her personal and professional life, with 24 years of experience backing her up.
“During the weekend and after 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, my email is not to be touched,” she said. “The hours belong to my family.”
The continuous efforts of Zakiya Deeb and her dedication to the FEA department are factors that play into why students are so grateful for her.
Urging FEA students to make the most of their university experience as undergraduate engineers, Deeb noted that if she were to go back in time and earn a degree in anything other than sociology, she would have certainly chosen civil engineering.