Engineering Student Mohamed El Sonbaty working with electronics in the lab

Life is one big school

Mohamed El Sonbaty chose Penn State to be the place where he pursues an education that will help him make a difference in the world.
By: Barbara Dennis

Mohamed El Sonbaty, 20, believes that life is one big school; and the world is a classroom filled with opportunities to learn and grow wherever you are. A seasoned world traveler at an early age, he traveled alone when he was in sixth grade from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, back to his home country of Egypt. In the summer of 2015, Mohamed journeyed to the United States with his parents to explore the country and consider undergraduate education options, as he had always wanted to study abroad. This trip was his first visit to the United States.

After visiting many colleges and universities, he decided to apply to Penn State – it was the only school in the United States to which he applied. Although he submitted applications to other schools internationally as well, his first choice was always Penn State, and when he was accepted, he left his family behind in Abu Dhabi to pursue a degree program here.

“Penn State is a really good school and one that everyone would like to attend. I believe Penn State represents the past, present and future as it has been there for more than 150 years!”

On the advice of a high school counselor, El Sonbaty decided to attend Penn State York and begin his Penn State story at a smaller campus with a low student to faculty ratio. That decision had a major impact on his life. He fell in love with the campus and decided to become a Lion Ambassador to share his experiences with other current and prospective students.

He led tours when the campus opened its new student center in 2016, and took part in a variety of activities on campus that provided him with the opportunity to make friends and have fun. The Lion Ambassadors are a part of the Student Government Association (SGA) on campus, and work closely with the admissions office to provide campus tours, fundraisers, and social events on behalf of the campus.

He also became involved with the Emerging Leaders Program and attended the Student Leadership Conference. All these experiences made the campus his home away from home.

“People here are completing my family that I don’t have here. Joining the Lion Ambassadors was a way for me to promote something I love; I love Penn State York.”

For El Sonbaty, the 2+2 program was perfect; two years at a smaller campus and then on to University Park to complete a degree in electrical engineering and computer engineering. His choice of major was no accident. He believes that the whole world culture is dependent upon electricity and technology, and that providing energy will help the world become a better place, and that’s something he wants to be a part of.

“My goal is to use electricity and technology to develop other countries that need help,” he said.

El Sonbaty’s mantra is study, learn, and achieve. After moving on to University Park, he decided to add computer engineering to his academic credentials. Once he completes his double major at Penn State, Mohamed plans to attend graduate school. The goal after graduate school is to gain work experience in a multi-national company, and then continue his life goal to help develop other countries using technology and science.

Mohamed El Sonbaty standing with the Nittany Lion mascot.

As a Lion Ambassador at Penn State York, Mohamed El Sonbaty played a major role in the opening of the new student center in October 2016. He led tours through the center and also made sure the Nittany Lion stayed on the prowl welcoming visitors throughout the event.

Credit: Barbara Dennis
Group of Lion Ambassadors posing for the camera

Mohamed decided to join the Lion Ambassadors and share his love of the campus with prospective students and other visitors. The Lion Ambassadors are a part of the Student Government Association (SGA) on campus, and work closely with the admissions office to provide campus tours, fundraisers, and social events on behalf of the campus.

Credit: Barbara Dennis
Lion Ambassador Mohamed El Sonbaty gives a tour outside of the Student Affairs office

A diversity wall map in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center lets visitors know the countries of students who attend Penn State York from around the world. Mohamed points out his country to visitors during a tour.

Credit: Barbara Dennis