Sohaib Soliman: Campus Leader, Lifelong Techie

SOCORRO, N.M. April 30, 2012 – Sohaib Soliman is proud to have been a Techie all his life – virtually. As a pre-schooler, he started “going to school” at the New Mexico Tech Children’s Center.

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Sohaib Soliman added "Macey Scholar" to his long list of accomplishments. 

“I’m an alumnus there,” he said with a laugh.

Soliman has Socorro and Tech in his blood. His father, Dr. Hamdy Soliman, is a professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, and his mother received her Master of Science for Teachers from Tech. His older brother, Omar, is the student representative on the Board of Regents. Not to be outdone, Sohaib was recently elected to his second term as President of the newly-renamed Student Government Association. Youngest brother Moaaz is also a student at Tech.

“We have friendly competition between the three of us,” Sohaib said. “If I talk about being S.G.A. President, Omar always reminds me that he’s the top dog because he’s on the Board of Regents.”

Soliman was the S.A. secretary as a freshman and a senator as a sophomore.He said he’s pleased that he was re-elected to a second term as S.G.A. President because he has unfinished business. Specifically, he is rewriting job descriptions and best practices for each Student Association position.

“Most people spend the first semester just figuring out what they’re supposed to be doing in their positions,” Soliman said. “Now, no one will have an excuse. Hopefully this will eliminate the learning curve and officers can immediately start working from their whole potential.”

He said he’s most proud of the improved communications during his presidency between the S.G.A. and the Tech administration.

Sohaib will be the only Macey Scholar in the family though. All three brothers will be graduating in May 2013. Omar in five years with two majors; Sohaib in four years with a major and a minor; and Moaaz in three years (thanks to ample dual-credit classes while still in high school).

“Mom and Dad are really proud of me,” he said. “I thank them for their support. They push me to succeed and don’t let me slack off. I’m thankful for their help.”

The boys’ mother, Azza Ezzat, is the upper level science teacher at Socorro High School.

“My mom taught anatomy and physiology [in high school]. She put me through the wringer,” Sohaib said.

Soliman diverged from his father’s and older brother’s interest in computer science.

“I took one computer science class and struggled,” Sohaib said. “I got constant help from Omar and Dad. I knew computer science wasn’t my thing.”

After working at the office of local dentist Dr. Duane Beers, Soliman decided to pursue biology, in preparation for dental school and a career in maxillofacial surgery. He accompanied Dr. Beers to a Mission of Mercy volunteer event, where he met a surgeon who specializes in facial reconstruction. That solidified his interest in that field.

“I’ve always liked physiology and anatomy,” he said. “Plus, I’ve always liked dissecting stuff.”

Soliman has ample research experience in the biology labs, where he volunteered to synthesize novel compounds for anti-cancer research.

Working with Dr. Kornienko, Dr. Rogelj, Dr. Magedov, Dr. Frolova, and Dr. Van Slambrouk,  Soliman synthesized and tested compounds that mimic unusual compounds found in strange marine organisms that resemble sea slugs.

Soliman’s application for the Macey Scholars program was supported by nominations from biology professors Rogelj and his advisor Dr. Tom Kieft.

“He’s a natural leader and gives of himself on behalf of Tri Beta and the Student Government Association,” Kieft wrote. “He’s a joy to have in class because he pays attention, thinks about the material and asks very insightful questions.”

Rogelj praised Soliman as a student, as a researcher, as a leader and as a person. She wrote that he is exceptionally quick at picking up complex concepts and translating them into action. She also wrote that he is at the top of her certain-to-succeed-and-contribute-fundamentally-to-humanity list.

“Sohaib’s outstanding intellectual abilities, his remarkable emotional maturity, his charisma and passion extends well past his scientific efforts,” she wrote. “Sohaib is truly extraordinary, even when compared to the other extraordinary students at New Mexico Tech.”

Soliman was equally as gracious about the award. He said he was excited to be named a Macey Scholar because it is one of Tech’s most prestigious scholarly award.

“There are so many opportunities for research and leadership,” Sohaib said. “It’s kind of unfair that a college this awesome is in my hometown.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech