Inspired to Make a Difference

Kameel Kishek is the First UT Fellow Supported by the Munib and Angela Masri Foundation Endowment
This fall, Kameel Kishek is making the long trip from Jordan to The University of Texas at Austin to enter the Energy and Earth Resources (EER) Program. He was drawn by the university’s global reputation and the interdisciplinary nature of the Jackson School of Geosciences EER master’s program, a combination that dovetails perfectly with his desire for a career in energy and sustainability fields.

But before any of that could take hold, his interest was piqued by one key factor — the name on the fellowship he has been awarded to support his education: Masri.

“When I told my father about the fellowship, he instantly started talking about the Masri family and the impact they have,” he said. “It is really amazing, and it really gives us young people the motivation to follow in their path of having an impact on this world.”

Kishek is the Jackson School’s first Masri Fellow. And it is not hard to see why Kishek was chosen as the inaugural recipient.

The Munib and Angela Masri Foundation created the prestigious fellowship with a twofold goal: to build a lasting cultural and educational pipeline between Texas and the region of Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon, and to support education and research in water, land use, energy, climate and environmental resilience Kishek fits that bill perfectly.

He recently graduated from the Princess Sumaya University for Technology in Amman, Jordan, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in power and energy engineering and has been working for a solar power company. He is interested in renewable energy and has already published on the topic, coauthoring a study, “Economic Advantages of Decentralized Solar PV Systems,” in the International Journal of Strategic Energy and Environmental Planning in 2020. EER Director Richard Chuchla said Kishek is exactly the kind of student his program is looking for.

“The premise of the EER graduate program and the cornerstone of the vision of the Masri fellowship are one and the same: sustainable energy and earth resource solutions,” Chuchla said. “I can think of few students better prepared to embrace this challenge than Kameel Kishek. We are extremely grateful that we were able to offer the Masri fellowship to Kameel to attract him here.”

Kishek is equally as grateful. He sees UT as the perfect place to advance his lifelong love of education and jumped at the chance to join the EER program, which mixes technical geosciences and engineering skills with education in management, finance, economics, law and policy. He also shares the Masris’ passion that the fellowship have a positive impact on the planet for the next 100 years.

“Once I saw the foundation’s name and the program associated with the fellowship it was really a sign that I should apply,” he said. “I’ve always looked up to Mr. Masri because of his contribution to society, whether here in Jordan or in Palestine or in Lebanon.”

Munib Masri made a similar journey to the one Kishek is making some 70 years ago when he traveled from Palestine to Texas to pursue his education. He earned a bachelor’s degree from UT in 1955 and went on to a long and legendary career as an entrepreneur in the energy and water sectors, as an advocate for a peaceful two-state solution and as a lifelong philanthropist. He founded Edgo, a leading oil and gas services company that operates throughout the Middle East, and co-founded and served for 20 years as chairman of the board of PADICO, a Palestinian development and investment company that established numerous subsidiaries focused on developing the infrastructure of the region. Masri and his wife formalized their philanthropic efforts in 1970 by launching the Munib and Angela Masri Foundation, which focuses on education, higher education, health, scientific research, culture and charitable initiatives.

His endowment to the Jackson School totals $10.5 million and will eventually fund multiple fellows who will follow Kishek.

“We are so grateful to the Masri family for making it possible for students like Kameel to pursue his education and future here,” said Jackson School Dean Claudia Mora. “These fellowships make such an impact on students’ lives and really help make the Jackson School one of the premier places in the world to tackle the big issues facing our planet.”