Tarek Al Baghal received his Ph.D. in Survey Research and Methodology in 2012 and is currently employed as a Senior Research Officer at the University of Essex. Teaching others about survey methodology comes naturally to him and has taken him places he never dreamed.
“I recently traveled to Rwanda to teach a survey sampling design course to researchers at the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC)," said Baghal. "It was a fascinating experience, not only going to Africa for the first time in my life, but also to a country that has such a well-known recent history. The teaching experience was also extraordinary, as there is not much experience locally with this kind of research, so I was one of the first teaching such a class. This opportunity to travel to and teach in Rwanda was directly possible due to the skills I had obtained from my experiences in the Survey Research and Methodology program at the University of Nebraska."
Al Baghal prepared himself extensively before coming to Nebraska.
“When I arrived at UNL for the Ph.D. program, I knew I was going to have to take a comprehensive exam in survey research," he said. "I had a Master’s degree in the field, and so had already taken many courses, but since I had worked in the private sector for a few years, I had forgotten many things. In particular, I had forgotten most of the techniques of sampling, and was worried I would not be able to pass any exam asking about sampling."
He went to Dr. Kristen Olson, associate professor of survey research methodology, and asked her advice.
“She suggested I act as a teaching assistant in her class, grading homework, helping students, and in the second year of this, teaching several of the lectures myself," said Al Baghal. "To say I learned a great deal from this would be an understatement. When a local contractor approached her to design samples for the state of Nebraska, she referred them to me, and from that I have designed a few state-wide samples. In addition to teaching, this practical experience gave me further insight, expertise, and confidence in presenting the materials. Dr. Olson did me several huge favors in teaching me sampling, going beyond the necessary. When I finished my Ph.D., I stayed at UNL for a postdoctoral year. During that year, I taught the applied sampling course solely, which furthered my abilities teaching the class and my confidence to do so."
Al Baghal believes he is now in a better position to accept new challenges when they arise, thanks to his experiences at UNL.