Widad Abdalla with Herky.

| October 16, 2019

Through a chance encounter, Widad Abdalla landed her dream job while still a University of Iowa student.

Abdalla, a recent graduate of the UI College of Education’s Educational Measurements and Statistics Ph.D. program, was attending an American Educational Research Association conference in Toronto, Canada last spring when someone cheered “Go Hawks!” as she unzipped her jacket, revealing a Hawkeye sweatshirt.

Abdalla responded to the chant in kind and was soon introduced to Steve Kromer, a University of Iowa alumnus and president of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) Assessment.

Kromer asked Abdalla about her educational career at the College of Education and what her job plans were after graduation. Kromer told her that his company had some job openings and that he was interested in talking with her further. Not one to turn down an opportunity, Abdalla accepted Kromer’s business card and soon followed up with him.

“I feel like opportunities don't come twice in a lifetime,” Abdalla says. “And I always take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”

Abdalla met with Kromer again later at the conference and further discussed the open positions at AIR Assessment.

“He asked me what I'm looking for in a job, and after I told him, he said that that was exactly what they're looking for,” Abdalla says. “It was like it was meant to be. It just felt like a good fit.”

Kromer then asked her to formally interview at his office in Washington D.C. Only a few days after her interview, Abdalla was formally offered a position at AIR Assessment in Washington D.C. as a psychometrician, which is someone who practices the science of educational and psychological measurement, or in other words, testing.

“A lot of my friends that wanted to graduate in May started applying for jobs in December. I had some ideas of jobs around that I was interested in but I didn't apply for anything,” Abdalla says. “I feel like everything comes to you in the perfect time and that’s what happened with me and this job opportunity.”

Abdalla, who is from Aibonito, Puerto Rico, was one of ten students who graduated from the Educational Measurement and Statistics Program, which has a 100 percent placement rate and draws students from across the nation and world. Sixty-eight percent of the students in the program hail from other countries.

Abdalla says she is thankful for her time at the UI and the impact the Educational Measurements and Statistics program had on her future, especially when it came to her career.

“The University of Iowa was my dream university,” Abdalla says, “and the Educational Measurements and Statistics program really allowed me to combine all of my passions for math, statistics, and education all in one program. The program has such a high-quality brand and is well known in the field.”

Abdalla has been living in Washington D.C. and working in her new position at AIR Assessment since August and says it’s been an incredible experience so far.

“It's been a challenge transitioning from being a graduate student to being out there in the industry,” Abdalla says. “Despite the challenges it's incredible all the things I’ve learned in the job and it feels incredibly satisfying every time I get a task done.”