Like many W. P. Carey students, David Dunton and Raed Hamzeh have extremely different backgrounds — one is from Phoenix, Arizona, and the other comes from Lebanon — yet they both arrived at similar destinations academically, professionally, and personally.
For Arizona-native Dunton, he always knew computer technology was where he’d be one day. His father had a similar degree and career and has been a strong influence in his life. Dunton began his college career focusing on information systems engineering but decided to switch gears and study computer information systems, graduating in 2005 from W. P. Carey. The CIS degree program was broader and included the business side of the field. “I made the decision to change because I wanted to be an implementer of technology, rather than a designer of technology,” he says.
Hamzeh’s path to W. P. Carey started in Lebanon where he was evacuated from Beirut amidst unrest during the 2006 Lebanon War when he was a thesis away from receiving his master’s degree in computer science from the Lebanese American University. Hamzeh arrived at a refugee camp in Cyprus, and after days of background checks was able to board a plane to the United States, where he made his way to Arizona. Fortunately, he was able to come back from his pause in education, as his father-in-law and brother-in-law are ASU graduates, big Sun Devil fans, and they introduced him to the W. P. Carey School of Business.
“I wanted to know what I didn’t know; learn what is out there in the industry, and support my career position for further growth,” says Hamzeh, who is the eldest of four siblings and the first person in his family to attend college.
Alumni’s positive education path
While their family journeys began on different continents, both Dunton and Hamzeh have arrived at a similar place academically and personally. Both graduated in 2016 with a Master’s of Science in Information Management, as well as have positive learning experiences. Adding to their school accomplishment, both graduates became fathers for the first time during the program.
“Not only was I a working student, but I was also a soon-to-be father. Big life changes were going on,” Dunton says.
Fortunately, Dunton raved about the organization of the program as a whole, as well as how easy the W. P. Carey staff and faculty made the process of going back to school. Many steps were taken care of for the students, such as parking passes are provided and course registration was completed for the students by their program coordinator.
“These were big perks,” says Dunton, who felt the school’s commitment to his success from these benefits. “It was very hassle-free as a working adult to get back into the swing of things. We, as students, didn’t have to worry about registration deadlines or standing in line for parking passes. We had our schedule of classes and simply showed up, thanks to the help from our program coordinator, Brenna McAuliffe, who took care of everything for us. It was a pleasant experience to go back. The W. P. Carey School as a whole has stepped up its game and is making it a positive experience for students.”
Hamzeh thought the courses, although taught in a condensed time frame, didn’t feel too overwhelming, thanks to the experienced professors.
“I also enjoyed our Saturday sessions where speakers from the workforce industry were invited to share their business background and knowledge,” says Hamzeh, whose daughter was born on a Saturday morning only hours before he made it to class.
Hamzeh also found the flow of the classes and how each was linked to the next to be beneficial, explaining it was similar to the way big companies operate. “I was able to understand why we do things a certain way and learned what I didn’t know, which was connecting all topics together and understanding the big, high-level picture, as well as the details that are needed to succeed in managing or architecting in a company,” he says.
Alumni follow same professional success
Just as their education path culminated in MSIM degrees, both Dunton and Hamzeh are sharing successful professional tracks. Dunton started working at SRP in 2001 as a student co-op, similar to a paid intern, working his way up through to data storage administration. Now he works in application administration, providing IT support for the application that the power schedulers use to determine how much power to generate and how much energy is consumed. Plus, Dunton’s department at SRP is working on a multi-year project to replace the scheduling application to better align with industry standards and streamline business processes. On the side, he teaches online courses for ASU.
Hamzeh is an IT solutions architect at APS and has been working on contributing to the company’s transition to the cloud. “I am applying what I learned, and I am getting real-world experience,” he says. “At my company, we have a lot of architecture work to do, so that should keep me busy for the next two years.” In the meantime, Hamzeh teaches project management at ASU.
“I want to teach others what I know and share my experience and knowledge. I believe teaching by itself is a continuous learning cycle that will help me learn soft skills,” says Hamzeh, who also walked the talk as he helped his siblings get their degrees. “One of my sisters received her BS in nursing and masters in nursing administration from the American University of Beirut (AUB). My other sister obtained her BS in nutrition and masters in food and technology at AUB. And my brother got his BS in business from the AUST- American University of Science & Technology.”
Dunton’s and Hamzeh’s similarities don’t end at similar school-work-life situations. They both enjoy spending time with their families, babies, and getting outdoors and traveling.