Dr. Dalia Sherif: Charting Unique Educational Paths
Dr. Dalia
Dr. Dalia Sherif

Education is a fundamental human right that should be accessible to all, regardless of geographical location. Even in the farthest reaches of the world, educational leaders are on a mission to make this vision a reality.

Dr. Dalia Sherif is a name that deserves the spotlight in the discussion of impeccable educational leadership. Her extraordinary career trajectory in the fields of international development and education bears witness to her persistent dedication to improving lives and opening educational doorways as a fundamental right. Dr. Sherif’’s career has been marked by a pursuit of global goals and the empowerment of students.

Her journey through the realms of international development and education has been an extraordinary adventure. It all began with her initial role at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on the Healthy Mother Healthy Child project. Despite challenges in accessing maternal care, this project achieved a significant milestone by notably reducing maternal mortality rates.

From this crucial starting point, Dr. Sherif’s career path led her through various USAID projects and participation in the European Union Trade Enhancement program, immersing her in the realm of economic development and the pursuit of global millennium goals. The pinnacle of her aspirations was realized when she secured her dream job with the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service, where she led efforts to promote education as an export sector, significantly contributing to the nation’s prosperity. As a Commercial Service trade professional, she helped companies like Disney Imagineering, Raytheon, Bell Helicopters, Paramount Picture, Dream Works Pictures, National University, Northrop Grumman, and many more with their export successes in global markets.

Venturing into Educational Realm 

Life took an unexpected turn when Dr. Sherif moved to the U.S. during the Arab Spring, marking the beginning of a new but a little uncertain career path. “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” is one of her favourite quotes, and she had actually won the diversity visa lottery that same year. During this phase, Dalia found profound inspiration to pursue a career in education. Assisting students in gaining admission to U.S. colleges and universities ignited a deep passion within her. Their stories of success and gratitude remain a wellspring of inspiration.

Another twist in Dr. Sherif’s journey revealed immense fulfilment in teaching. Sharing her diverse work experiences with students and witnessing their growth and transformation while equipped with practical skills for immediate career application became a rewarding part of her professional trajectory. This journey transitioned from international admissions to enrolment management and graduate programs, culminating in Sherif’s current role, shaping remarkable bachelor’s degrees at Lone Star College.

Embracing New Opportunities

Reflecting on this journey, the application for her current position stands out as a delightful surprise. It’s a reminder that embracing new opportunities certainly leads to success. Despite concerns from family and friends about burnout during Dr. Sherif’s time in graduate school, she found that pursuing higher education is akin to opening a door that leads to a hallway full of doors. Now, she remains enrolled in graduate school, pursuing a data science degree, even after obtaining the terminal degree. Her motivation is fueled by a deep love for learning, which continually inspires her to seek more knowledge.

Guided by the warmth and support of the community, Dr. Sherif endeavoured to give back through service on various organization boards, including the Asian Chamber of Commerce, East End Chamber, Women Professionals in Government, Girls Empowered, and the Community College Baccalaureate Association.

Driving Systematic Changes

Throughout Dr. Sherif’s educational journey, several moments stand out. Stepping into her first teaching role revealed the profound responsibility and privilege of shaping young minds. The challenges of her first day as a professor were overshadowed by the profound sense of accomplishment and the enriching opportunity to ignite and inspire eager minds, making it an immensely rewarding experience. Receiving the Outstanding Finalist Adjunct award was another monumental moment for Dr. Sherif. Transitioning into a leadership role within higher education empowered her to drive systemic change and create innovative and positive learning environments.

Above all, Dr. Sherif believes that the most rewarding moments for her have been witnessing the remarkable achievements and personal growth of the students she has had the privilege to teach and mentor. Their successes, academically and personally, reaffirm the boundless potential within each individual and fuel her unwavering dedication to education. Her dedication to the Women Professional in Government as the Scholarship Chair and her contributions to the East End Chamber of Commerce through the scholarship and mentorship committee has further ignited her passion, satisfied her thirst for advancing education, and solidified her unwavering commitment to making a significant impact in the lives of students and the broader community.

Prioritizing Continuous Improvement  

Dr. Sherif’s mission and vision in education serve as a compass, guiding her actions, decisions, and initiatives, aiming to make a positive impact on the lives of students and the community. She strives to facilitate learning and promote critical thinking in an environment where students feel empowered, inspired, and supported to reach their full potential. She does this while ensuring that she is engaging the community, industry, and stakeholders to create a collaborative educational environment. Dr. Sherif believes in the transformative power of education and in creating a learning environment that leads to positive change and transformation in the lives of students, shaping them to be future leaders and contributors to society. She has a vision of continuous improvement and innovation, seeking new and effective ways to enhance the educational experience for students and educators alike.

Fostering Deeper Understanding

In response to the challenges of digital learning and remote education, Dr. Sherif has implemented diverse strategies to engage and inspire students, particularly within the realm of cyber security education. She secured hyper reality labs for students to experience real-life scenarios even if they pursue the program in an online modality. Dr. Sherif also established a mentorship program in collaboration with the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) aimed at preparing students in the cyber security program for the professional landscape. This mentorship initiative provided students with practical insights and guidance, offering them a bridge between academic learning and real-world application. The program fosters a deeper understanding of industry practices and expectations. It also provides them with a frame or reference and a professional mentor to support their future professional endeavors.

Encouraging Novel Approaches

Balancing traditional teaching methods with innovative, progressive approaches within the educational institution involves a careful integration of time-tested practices with contemporary methodologies and innovation. Recognizing the value of both approaches, Dr. Sherif advocates a model that combines the strengths of conventional teaching with forward-thinking, innovative techniques. She encourages the integration of novel approaches, including project-based learning, flipped classrooms, virtual reality, hyper reality labs, and technology-driven learning, to foster critical thinking, creativity, agility, and adaptability.

Enabling Personalized Learning with Technology

Technological advancements, particularly virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are poised to significantly transform the landscape of education. VR offers immersive, interactive experiences, transporting students to simulated environments that enhance learning by engaging multiple senses. AI, on the other hand, enables personalized learning experiences and a transformative concept of higher education.

Dr. Sherif sees these technological advancements as catalysts for a more dynamic educational future. VR, with its ability to create simulated scenarios, can offer hands-on experiences, enabling students to explore historical events, conduct scientific experiments, or engage in practical real-time training. AI’s role in education is equally impactful, offering personalized learning paths, identifying areas where students might need extra help, and customizing content to match individual learning styles. For instance, an innovative AI platform has been developed to assist educators in grading more impartially.

This adaptable AI model refines its accuracy through continual use, progressively enhancing its precision. It evolves over time, learning and improving its grading capabilities, promoting fair and consistent assessment methods for faculty. So, integrating VR and AI into classrooms can foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. However, it’s crucial to use these tools thoughtfully, ensuring that they augment and support education without replacing the invaluable human element in teaching.

Influencing Educational Landscape

Dr. Sherif’s most significant contributions to higher education have been pioneering the growth and development of educational programs in Texas. She played a pivotal role in establishing and expanding the UHD MBA, and helped elevate it from being the smallest in Houston to becoming the largest in the State of Texas. This accomplishment not only reflected a transformative growth trajectory but also underscored the program’s significant impact and influence within the educational landscape. Additionally, she spearheaded the building of the Lone Star College baccalaureate degrees, leading to a remarkable threefold increase in enrolment within just three years. Helping students earn a world-class bachelor’s degree at an extremely affordable price point was a dream come true. These achievements were acknowledged and honoured by prestigious accolades, including the Jesse H. Jones Award in 2023, and the esteemed recognition of the Houston Business Journal Woman Who Means Business Award in 2018. These awards validated her innovative contributions and relentless team efforts in shaping the educational sphere and empowering students within the higher education community.

Dr. Sherif has also received four meritorious honour awards from the International Trade Administration, U.S. Commercial Service, and the U.S. Department of State and several finalist excellence awards as an adjunct faculty. She is also a member of the Alpha Chi National Honour Society and PSI Chi International Honour Society in Psychology. She has just concluded her five-year term of service on the board of the Asian Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest and most impactful multipliers in Houston. Dr. Sherif culminated her service by witnessing an MOU between the chamber and the U.S. Small Business Administration to support local entrepreneurs.

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