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UOWD graduate wins third place in world public speaking contest

Monday, 2 September, 2013

Shurooq Al Banna, a Master of Strategic Marketing graduate from the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), has become the first Arab woman to triumph at the annual Toastmasters International Speech Contest.
Shurooq was among over 30,000 people from across the globe that entered the contest to compete for the accolade ‘World Champion of Public Speaking’. As one of the 88 short-listed competitors, she became the first Arab woman to pass the district level stage of the contest.
Triumphing in District 20 of the competition, Shurooq finished ahead of other competitors from Middle East countries, including Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar, to reach the world championship finals, held in the United States.
With her prize-winning entry ‘Finding the Pearl’, in which she spoke about the importance of looking beyond the exterior shell and finding the goodness in people, Shurooq went on to become the first Arab contestant ever to reach the top three.
Shurooq has a long and distinguished history in public speaking, including taking centre stage at the UOWD graduation ceremony in 2010.
She explains, “Public speaking has been a hobby since childhood and I pursued it alongside my studies, even while I was working towards my postgraduate degree at UOWD. It was a powerful tool that developed my creativity and gave me energy.  One of the most memorable speeches I ever gave, and the one I am most fond of, was the Vote of Thanks during the UOWD graduation ceremony back in 2010.” 
Hoping that her success will inspire others, she continues, “I believe that it is of utmost importance to pursue your hobbies with passion, because only then will you taste the flavour that they add to your life. And as I reap the rewards of this passion, I encourage all students to make time for their hobbies.  You never know where it may take you.”