Haytham Saqr moved to New York City in 2016 after years of success as a producer in Dubai. Already in his mid-thirties by that time, he’d had a full career making short films and producing television shows and documentaries, but came to the United States in search of “more freedoms and liberties.”
Now, at 42, he’s a graduate student in the Newhouse School’s new media management program.
“I’m what’s called an ‘untraditional’ student,” Saqr says, “which is the politically correct way to say older student.”
While Saqr was living in New York, he took on freelance videography jobs and worked in bars and restaurants to get by. When the pandemic hit, he took the opportunity to finish editing a documentary about a personally meaningful trip he made to Nepal in 2015.
“During the pandemic and while working on my documentary, I did a lot of thinking, re-examining my goals and aspirations,” Saqr says. “This was when Newhouse’s master’s programs popped up in front of me.”
Saqr had enrolled in short-term educational programs at the New York Film Academy in 2010 and at Parsons School of Design in 2018—”I believe that one should never stop learning,” he says—but this is his first degree program since his undergraduate education.
“My experience at Syracuse University is like no other. It is expanding my knowledge and understanding of the American culture in ways that could not be otherwise possible.” Saqr, who is originally from Cairo, says. While pursuing his degree in new media management, he’s also an instructional assistant, helping professors teach undergraduate classes, which he enjoys. He also appreciates the benefits of returning to school after working as a media professional for so many years, as it gives him the opportunity to expand his skillsets.
“I didn’t want to study what I already have experience in,” Saqr says. “That’s why I chose new media management. Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses is a huge plus when deciding what to study.”
“As a new media management graduate student, Haytham demonstrates his curiosity, his scholarship, and his commitment to enlisting his skills as a new media storyteller every single day,” says Adam Peruta, director of the new media management program. “It’s students like him who make teaching a pleasure.”
In addition to being an instructional assistant, Saqr has also joined the Graduate Student Organization as a student senator. “In the student senate, I hope to contribute to the body of work being done to benefit everyone, especially my classmates. I like to get more involved and find ways to meaningfully contribute to the organization as a payback to all the wonderful things I have gotten so far.”
Looking to the future, Saqr says he would like to find work in media, but he’s not particular as to where. “It can be that I’ll go back to New York City, or move somewhere else. I look forward to using my gained knowledge and tools for whatever job I acquire.”