As someone who takes great pride in both his Egyptian heritage and his American citizenship, Senior Capital Projects Manager Hady El Sayed integrates the best of both cultures into his daily life at Alfred State College (ASC).
Since moving to Wellsville from Cairo more than three years ago, El Sayed has come to embrace small town life in the US, while also staying true to his Middle Eastern roots and faith. El Sayed himself has likewise felt embraced since becoming a part of the Allegany County community.
“I feel welcome here,” he said. “I feel like I belong here.”
Since joining the Alfred State Family in April 2016, El Sayed has supervised construction projects on campus, and has a hand in many different aspects of the building process, including fine-tuning the designs and communicating with those whose work areas are being affected.
“I love the variety of projects that we handle, whether it is new construction, structure upgrades, HVAC, plumbing, or electrical work because it’s not like you do the same thing every day,” he said. “That is why I became involved in project management: to have a variety of projects to work on, opportunities for continuous improvement, and career advancement.”
Prior to joining the Alfred State staff, El Sayed gained experience in both Egypt and the US. After earning his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Cairo University in 2007, El Sayed began working for a multi-national French oil and gas company called Total.
“For three years, I was involved in the operation and maintenance of all the oil sites and gas stations in Egypt,” he said. “I was coached to be a project manager. Starting 2010, and for four years, I was performing construction management for all the new builds and the renovations that happened in these sites and gas stations.”
In 2014, El Sayed and his wife, whom he had married in 2010, welcomed a new addition to their family with the birth of their baby girl. A few months later in February of 2015, the family decided to move to Wellsville, where El Sayed’s wife grew up. The couple had met while she was studying abroad in the American University in Cairo.
Once in the US, El Sayed worked seasonally as a contractor for a construction company out of Rochester until he joined Alfred State. He had heard about the school’s excellent reputation and friendly working environment.
“Working here has proved that the reputation actually is real,” he said. “Everybody is helpful and is working toward a well-defined mission. I love the unity and cohesiveness.”
The ASC campus also provides El Sayed the ability to continue perfecting his handball skills at the Orvis Activities Center. As it turns out, El Sayed, in addition to being a project manager, is also a former professional handball player.
“I’ve played it since I was 9 and I turned pro at 17,” he said.
El Sayed played handball for 10 years for multiple pro teams while in Egypt, including the Youth National Team. During his professional career with his teams, El Sayed won Egyptian league, African Cup, and Arab Cup titles. He continues to play in the US, though as an amateur, as handball is not currently a professional sport in America.
Last year, El Sayed’s team became Division I champions in the Open Nationals. He is also a member of the New York Athletic Club handball team, which was crowned champions in the North-American Classic competition in Massachusetts last month. ElSayed has also been in talks with the coach of the US National Team. Since handball is still an amateur sport in the US, El Sayed has fewer games and practices now than he did when he was in Egypt.
“When I played pro, I finished my work and went in for practice six days a week, two or three hours a day, 10 months out of the year,” he said. “Here, they just play every Sunday and I practice on my own.”
In addition to construction and handball, another passion of El Sayed’s is his faith: Islam. El Sayed was asked by Provost Dr. Kristin Poppo to give the invocation at Student Orientation this past summer.
“I was really honored that she reached out to me and that I was able to participate,” said El Sayed, who read from the Quran, as well as passages from the prophet Muhammad. “I think it’s important for people to understand just because there are some negative things that have happened, that they don’t represent Islam in any way. I think of myself as an ambassador of my faith and I encourage people to reach out and ask me any questions.”
While staying true to his faith and heritage, El Sayed has simultaneously embraced America as his home, especially after successfully completing all the steps necessary to achieve US citizenship. For El Sayed, both of his “worlds” will always be a big part of his and his family’s lives.
“I’m taking the best of both worlds and I’m applying it,” he said. “My daughter is American and is also Egyptian, so we’re raising her to embrace the best of both worlds, as well. I’m so proud to have become a US citizen and to be able to incorporate into my own life everything good that the US represents.”