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Palestinian student returns home after making huge impact on Dundee

Jalal graduates from Dundee University.
Jalal graduates from Dundee University.

A Palestinian-born student is preparing to return to the war-torn West Bank after graduating from Dundee University.

Jalal Abukhater, an international relations and politics graduand, has made a mark on the city during his time here.

The 21-year-old played an active role in local politics and university life and had work published in The Courier about Palestine.

Jalal, who graduated on Thursday, said he had enjoyed his time in Scotland.

“In many ways, it’s fair to say Dundee chose me,” he said.

“I came to Dundee just at the right time. In my first lecture, we were asked ‘Who here would like to go into international politics or local politics?’ I was one of a few who seriously considered the importance of local politics.

“When I arrived to Dundee the Edinburgh Agreement had just been signed and everyone was talking about change. Even though I couldn’t vote, my contribution was to make sure others would.”

He continued: “I became engaged in the local politics of the city.

“I’m headed back to Palestine now and I feel ready to use the voice I developed here to help others back home.”

As well as securing a First in his degree, Jalal has also helped local MSPs and MPs.

He has also advocated for the support of Syrian refugees through the establishment of humanitarian scholarships, called for the creation of BME and LGBT representatives and participated in all areas of university politics.

In his spare time, he excelled in sports at the university, achieving a personal best of 3 hours 20 minutes in the Edinburgh marathon in May.

He said: “There are no safe roads to run on in Jerusalem, so in coming to Dundee, I got the chance to train and push myself. I feel in love with the small city that gave me so many opportunities, it inspired me to get out and make sure others knew what opportunities were out there for them.”

In addition to the regular gradations, several high profile figures have also been celebrated as part of the week’s ceremonies.

The former chairman of the Wellcome Trust, Sir William Castell, and retired British ambassador to Afghanistan Sir William Patey received their honorary degrees yesterday.

Sir William Castell, who headed up the global charitable foundation for several years, had previously led a successful career across many different industries.

The Wellcome Trust supports over 14,000 people in more than 70 countries, and has ambitious plans to spend up to £5 billion over the next five years to help thousands of people explore ideas in science, population health, medical innovation, the humanities and social sciences, and public engagement.

Sir William Patey served as a UK diplomat for many years, and was ambassador to Iraq, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan before retiring in 2012.

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