Omar Abdulla, College of Engineering

Omar Abdulla and his mother, Maisoon Zainuldin.

Omar Abdulla wants to be a “jusour” – a bridge – for others.

His college journey wasn’t all roses. There were dark times, when he wished he’d never crossed that ocean to attend CSU.

A scholarship student from Dubai who identifies as both Syrian and Emirati, Abdulla missed home, and he felt lost in a sea of Americans. In his junior year, grades plummeting, his academic adviser encouraged him to seek help. Counseling through the CSU Health Network paved a fresh start, and slowly, Abdulla found his place.

Pulling himself back up to A-student status, Abdulla got involved in the community. He volunteered with Partners Mentoring Youth in Fort Collins, and he participated in the Office of International Programs cultural mentorship program, where he was immersed in things like American football, stargazing, and painting the “A.”

And he tinkered. A lot. Always with a mind for creative design, Abdulla’s projects have included a fully electric scooter, a hot tub (which unfortunately leaked), and a human exoskeleton, which formed the second half of his senior design project.

The exoskeleton is a nod to Abdulla’s passion for biomechatronics, which he had dreamed of studying since high school. It turned out to be a bit specific for a college major, so he chose mechanical engineering instead. Soon after he arrived in Fort Collins, CSU began offering a degree in biomedical engineering – a perfect marriage of his interests. Abdulla will graduate with a double major in both on Dec. 19.

Abdulla isn’t sure what shape life will take post-graduation. He’s waiting to hear about an engineering job 10 minutes from his mother’s house in Dubai. Soon after he returns home, he’ll enter his country’s mandatory yearlong military service. Someday, he may pursue medical school.

But one thing is for sure: Abdulla wants to help people. While at CSU, he started a company called “Jusour,” the Arabic word for “bridges,” which he describes as bringing technology and medical help to the people who need it most.

“A lot of people in the world don’t have a voice,” Abdulla says. “People are oppressed, and live in countries dominated by chaos and wars. I want to be a voice for those people. I want to live with them and get to know them, and let the rest of the world know, too.”

Maybe his desire to give back is inspired by the unwavering support of others. His mother, who raised him and his two siblings and earned her high school degree when Abdulla was 9, is chief among them. At CSU, he credits Brett Beal, his biomedical engineering academic adviser.

“[Beal] was my biggest support,” Abdulla said. “She cared about me. She really was the single biggest factor here at CSU that helped me get through things.”