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Fifty-Ninth Commencement



Fifty-Ninth Commencement Salutatorian Maged Ba Qatyan

Maged Ba Qatyan


Class of 2024 Salutatorian
Maged Ba Qatyan

The road to Kingsborough was long and winding for Maged Ba Qatyan, a business administration major at Kingsborough Community College (KCC). Born and raised in Saudi Arabia to Yemeni parents, he found he was considered an “outsider” by the country of his birth. “Despite my father having lived in Saudi Arabia for 50 years and my own birth there, we remained categorized as outsiders and could not be granted citizenship status,” he explained. “Eight years ago, I returned to Saudi Arabia from Malaysia after six months of studying English, with the hopes of going back to Malaysia to get my bachelor’s degree. When I returned, the Saudi government passed a bill that imposed taxes on non-citizens, and those taxes would double annually. They also restricted most of the desirable jobs to citizens only, leaving most non-Saudis in menial positions.”

He finally found full-time work as a salesman in a watch store, but his non-citizen status led to his dismissal. “In Arabic, there is a saying, ‘God’s earth is vast,’ which means that if your life is not what you want it to be in a particular place or country, you do not have to be stuck there. Rather, you should look for a better opportunity somewhere else,” he shared. “Getting fired from my sales job was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because, at that moment, I decided it was time for a fresh start in a new country.”

With the goal of not relocating to Yemen because of its ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises, he began applying for visas in an attempt to leave Saudi Arabia. “America was not even on my list due to the difficulty of obtaining a visa. I applied twice to Canada, twice to the Netherlands, once to Malta, and even twice to Russia, but faced rejection each time.”

On March 1st, 2021, in the midst of COVID, the U.S. embassy announced the re-opening of its consulate. “I applied with no hope at all and got approved on my first attempt!”

Maged arrived in the United States in 2021 and decided to enroll at Kingsborough. “I came across Kingsborough while searching for top community colleges, and to my delight, I discovered that it had been honored with the “best community college” award by Niche,” he shared. “Choosing to enroll in Kingsborough has proved to be one of the most rewarding decisions I have made. From day one, my experience with the International Student Affairs office was exceptional. They hosted a comprehensive orientation session on Zoom, where they not only provided valuable information but also reassured us by saying, ‘We are like your parents here,’ a statement they truly embodied.”

He started out in the ESL program in order to hone his English skills. “Because English is my second language, I was required to take an English writing placement test to evaluate my proficiency. I vividly remember that the test lasted around one hour and thirty minutes. During this time, I struggled to write a full-body essay, leading to my placement in ESL 101. My experience in the ESL program was shaped by Prof. Monica Filimon, who was a tough grader but had remarkable teaching skills. I needed that toughness to improve my English and my essay-writing skills.”

He also enrolled in a basic communications course taught by Prof. David Costello. “This class was challenging and, frankly, made me step out of my comfort zone. Prof. Castello required each student to deliver speeches in front of the class. Speaking before a large audience in my native language was daunting enough, let alone doing so in my second language. Each speech was met with nervous anticipation from all students, and nobody volunteered to go first,” he recalled. “Prof. Costello provided constructive feedback to enhance our public speaking abilities. I had to give three speeches in this class, and I was nervous and shaking before each one. Yet, after I was done with each one, the rush of endorphins and the sense of achievement I experienced were profound.”

Last fall, his academic excellence earned him a spot on the Dean's List. He served as a co-master of ceremonies for the Dean’s List award ceremony, where he spoke in front of a large audience. “It was something I would never have thought about doing two years prior.”

Maged’s also honed leadership skills while at Kingsborough. He served as president of the Muslim Student Association, a student government senator, and the treasurer of the business club, and he was a member of both the Entrepreneurship Club and the International Student Club.

His commitment and dedication led to a perfect 4.0 GPA, earning him the honor of representing the Class of 2024 as Kingsborough's salutatorian. He credits the college with providing him opportunities for personal growth and networking, saying, "Kingsborough has played a significant role in fostering my confidence and contributing to my overall personal growth. Truly, Kingsborough is where dreams begin."