Fall 2011

15 Siblings and Illiterate Parents
Ahmad Mahagna Became a Bank Manager

Ahmad Mahagna

Ahmad Mahagna earned both his Bachelor's degree and MBA from the Open University. Now he is considering doing his doctorate. A bank manager at the Bank Hapoalim branch in Umm-El-Fahm, the Open University made all the difference in his life.

Ahmad Mahagna still remembers how he would wait with trembling fingers for the "Voice of OU" phone line (yes, there was once such a thing) in the 1980's to hear the reading of his exam grades.

No need to worry. Mahagna passed his exams -- and earned his undergraduate degree in social sciences and then his Master's degree in business.

Mahagna's success was not to be taken for granted. "I am one of 16 siblings and my parents are illiterate. Most of my older brothers had no opportunity to study and only the four younger ones got an education," he explains. "There was no money for education and frankly, it was quite rare in our community for kids to even finish high school. But, my parents encouraged us to study and many of my siblings and I were motivated to do so."

Mahagna got a job as a clerk in a bank because he had good grades in school, but advancement to the higher ranks of the bank could only happen with an academic degree.

He had to take a break from his undergraduate degree studies from time to time in order to complete courses required by the bank, or for personal reasons (such as building his house) or for economic reasons.

Despite all of the difficulties, however, not once did Mahagna consider ceasing his undergraduate studies. This was a dream he had, and it was obvious to him that, no matter what, he would fulfill it.

Now that he has an opportunity rest a bit and review his life, he cannot possibly envision it without his degrees and without the Open University. These studies paid off for him in spades. He remembers the excitement that he felt as a student during his first courses, in effect the encounter with the new academic world -- a different feeling than anything he had felt before even while a student at Afula's regional high school.

His horizons quickly expanded and his understanding sharpened, and all of this he was able to apply to his work at the bank. Furthermore, the fact that he succeeded in his studies gave him the confidence in himself and his abilities in other areas of his life.

With his undergraduate degree in hand, he was able to advance at work. In 1996 he was appointed director of the business division of the bank's branch in Taibe. And, three years later he became that branch's vice-president.

Shortly after, he decided to continue his studies. It was obvious to him that he would only do so at the Open University, yes, because he could work and learn at the same time, but also because he enjoyed the high level of studies.

This flexibility applies to the classroom times, tutorial hours, venues and how one decides when and where to study. Mahagna began his Master's program in 2002 and finished within 3-1/2 years. He took two courses per semester. And, like last time, his studies proved their worth at work as well.

Open University: Surpassing all Expectations

While he was already familiar with the Open University's high level of studies, he was pleasantly surprised by the quality and depth of knowledge he acquired. "It surpassed all my expectations."

He completed his Master's degree while he was manager of Bank Hapoalim's branch in Qalansawe. Now that he's the manager of the Bank Hapoalim branch in Umm-al-Fahm, he's considering doing his doctorate -- and after coming so far, Ahmad Mahagna has no intention of stopping now.