Research with impact rekindles an international student’s love of academia

Published: May 8, 2023

Smiling woman stands in front of buildings outside.
Hala Algrain (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Hala Algrain

Degree: MPS, Health IT; Graduate Certificate in Data Science
Hometown: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Post-grad plans: Ph.D. in information systems, UMBC

Supportive faculty and staff mentors helped Hala Algrain find her way on what she describes as a long journey to a career that fits her values. 

While pursuing a master’s degree in health information technology, Algrain honed her interests and reconnected with a love of research and teaching. She currently works as a research assistant in the Health Data Lab of Ian Stockwell, associate professor of information systems. She felt an immediate connection to the work, which aligns with her goal of creating intelligent human-centered health systems that address patient needs. Her experience in the lab prompted her to change career plans. Instead of entering industry, she will pursue a Ph.D. in information systems at UMBC

Algrain also accessed professional development services and found faculty who guided her to classes that fit her interests and opened new opportunities. “Shout out to the Office of International Students and Scholars,” she says. “They really do have your back.”

Two women stand in front of grass field and smile at the camera. They wear shirts that read, "The Y" and "Turkey Trop Charity 5K."
Hala Algrain and her sister at the Y Turkey Trot Charity 5K in Baltimore. (Image courtesy of Hala Algrain.)

What activity, experience, or co-curricular at UMBC was particularly important to you?

“I’ve valued working as a teaching assistant and a research assistant. Connecting with students as a teaching assistant rekindled my love for academia. I enjoyed being able to facilitate another student’s learning experience.”

Is there a particular academic achievement you’re most proud of?

“I’m proud of persevering through a lot of professional dead ends and continuously seeking a higher standard for the level of impact of health systems. It’s incredibly reassuring and exciting to find mentors at UMBC who have the same values of conducting research with real-world impact.”

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