Perseverance and a Suitcase
PROVO, Utah – Dec 10, 2020 – When Jack Abumanneh first landed in the United States on 24 August 2017, three days after his seventeenth birthday, he had packed all his belongings into a single suitcase and backpack. After taking the shuttle from the Salt Lake City airport to the dorms at Brigham Young University in Provo, he turned to the student sitting at the check-in desk and asked, “What do I do next?” Since arriving at BYU just over three years ago, Abumanneh has found answers to that question. Now as a senior in the finance program at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Abumanneh reflects on his time at BYU with gratitude and looks forward to a bright future.
Born in Jordan but raised in Egypt, Abumanneh knew BYU was where he wanted to be after hearing his cousins share stories of their experiences attending the school—one of whom majored in finance and the other earned an MBA. “After seeing what both of my cousins were doing after graduating from BYU Marriott, I was sure that I wanted to come to BYU and study at its business school,” says Abumanneh.
Abumanneh was eventually accepted into BYU, but this change meant he had to pack up his life and travel across the globe to begin a new life in Provo. Abumanneh didn’t bring much with him to begin his new life in America. Luckily, before arriving in Utah, one of his cousins helped him order essentials such as a towel, shampoo, and bed sheets to be delivered to Utah. However, Abumanneh’s enthusiasm for online shopping was short lived. The box was waiting for him in Provo, but when he opened it, he found it was filled not with the essentials he needed but rather with wooden coat hangers. Unable to return the order, he hauled his box of hangers back to his apartment. For the next few nights, Abumanneh used the jackets and coats he had packed as a pillow and blanket.
Over the coming weeks and months, Abumanneh tracked down those essential supplies and begin to make friends with those around him at BYU. During his first two years of college, he worked hard to be accepted into the finance program at BYU Marriott. When Abumanneh was admitted into the program, he was excited about finally getting to experience what his cousins had shared with him a few years earlier.
Aside from his experiences with professors and classmates, Abumanneh found kinship with Tracie Laham, who directs career management and employer relations for the finance program at BYU Marriott’s Business Career Center. “Tracie is Lebanese, so it was great to talk to and work with someone who has a shared connection to the Middle East,” Abumanneh says. “She helped me forge new relationships among my peers and mentors. She also helped me find an internship with United Way of Utah County, which has helped me focus my career goals.”
In addition to the support he received from people such as Laham, Abumanneh’s experience in the finance program has led to experiential growth through case study assignments and even more new friends. The assignments weren’t easy. Abumanneh spent many hours working alongside his classmates to come up with creative solutions to a variety of problems for his class’ case study assignments.
Abumanneh recalls staying up until 4 a.m. to study and prepare for his first case study assignment, only to wake two hours later and return to the same work. He and his teammates worked together to come up with an innovative solution, which helped the team earn one of the best grades in the class. Through this shared experience, Abumanneh and the other members of his group became good friends.
Now in his final year at BYU Marriott, Abumanneh says one of the biggest lessons he’s learned as a student is gratitude. “We must appreciate everything we have right now. I’ve been blessed to be able to come to BYU Marriott, a privilege that many people back home in Egypt and Jordan do not have,” he says.
Recognizing his own blessings and newfound opportunities, Abumanneh believes his experiences at school has helped him find not only viable career paths, but also purpose to what he will do moving forward. “I’m thankful for everything BYU Marriott has given me--everything from amazing internships and invaluable relationships to character building class projects," Abumanneh says. "Those experiences helped me discover what I truly want for my future career.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Rebecca Nissen