Meet Engineering valedictorian Aya Aboughanem

Cutout of smiling Aya with text that reads: You did it! Valedictorian, Faculty of Engineering, Aya Aboughanem.

"Don't stress about the future so much," says Engineering valedictorian Aya Aboughanem. "If you change your mind later on, you can still make what you want happen. There’s no set path or timeline for anyone.

Faculty of Engineering valedictorian Aya Aboughanem graduates June 17 with a B.Eng in Electrical Engineering & Management. We asked her a bit about herself and here’s what she had to say.

Why did you choose McMaster?  

When visiting different universities, something about the community and welcoming feel at McMaster drew me in. I also saw the incredible opportunities and support for students and I knew I wanted to come to Mac and be part of that.

What’s next for you?  

Up next, I’m joining Bell as a Network Specialist in their graduate leadership program!

Can you share a great piece of advice you’ve been given?  

Don’t stress about the future so much. If you change your mind later on, you can still make what you want happen. There’s no set path or timeline for anyone.

Now that you’re graduating, what’s your advice for students?  

My advice is to follow your passions. There can be a lot at school and in the workplace that you can do and it can feel overwhelming, but focus on what you care about and what you want to do. I also sometimes say everything happens for a reason or that things will work out eventually as long as you do what you can to try.

Tell us about a good memory from your time at McMaster.  

My favourite memories are from my time in first year in residence (shoutout to Hedden Hall) where I would always hang out with friends in the common rooms and there was something to do together everyday; whether it was studying, baking sweets, doing a gift exchange before the holidays or when my roommate planned a surprise party in our dorm room and filled the room with balloons. It was a unique time for me and I’ll cherish those moments forever.

What’s an accomplishment you’re really proud of? 

I’m extremely proud of my involvement at McMaster as a whole. I felt that I was able expand my comfort zone and achieve everything I set my mind to.

I’m really proud of founding the McMaster Undergraduate Women in STEM Club in 2018 and it’s still continuing as an amazing club to this day. It was amazing to bring students across all STEM related faculties together in social and professional development events. And I’m proud of its mentorship program with not only younger years to upper years, but also undergraduate to graduate mentorship.

Tell us about a prof or mentor figure who made a difference for you in your time at Mac.  

There are a couple older students who I always looked up to. Vanessa Raponi is someone I met when I was visiting as a prospective student and thought she was incredible for all that she’s done in her years at McMaster and it inspired me to be involved when I finally joined McMaster Engineering.

And Dani Lake, who was an upper year in the same program as me, who was very involved within the engineering society and external engineering organizations. I was always able to talk to her about classes and extra-curriculars, and even work when I took a co-op at the same company she was at full-time.

It was great getting to know them and have the legacy they left at McMaster to look up to.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? 

Teleportation! That would save so much travel time to class, work, vacations etc. Just imagine how much time and money you could save when you can instantly just get to anywhere in the world.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned so far?  

I’ve learned to not compare myself to others and to be proud of what I’ve done. I know that if I want to accomplish something, whether it be to work at a certain company or start my own business, that it can’t happen right away and it’s important to recognize that things take time. But if you put in the time and continue to try, I believe it will still work out the way it’s supposed to.

While at Mac, did you receive donor-funded financial assistance (e.g., a scholarship, award, bursary)? Any thoughts on the importance of giving back to your alma mater to support future generations?   

I was very fortunate to receive a few scholarships when entering McMaster and even during my years here. I think if someone can give back then it’s amazing to support future McMaster students. I’m happy that there are these scholarships that helps students and I hope that they wouldn’t be a make or break for students to attend McMaster but more as a supporting aid to allow students to have more time to spend immersing themselves in the university student life.