A Choice That Exceeded Expectations: Ali Rah’s Story with University of Fairfax

A Choice That Exceeded Expectations: Ali Rah’s Story with University of Fairfax

Ali Rah was no stranger to research when he joined the University of Fairfax’s Doctor of Information Assurance program – in fact, he chose our program after two years of searching for the right school. Ali needed to find the right place that could give him the knowledge and degree he was searching for, especially after decades of worldly experience working security in the Moroccan government. Once he began his education, he knew that he had made the right choice, and that if he had to do it all over again, he would not hesitate to choose the University of Fairfax again. Just as Ali made the right choice by pursuing his education at the University of Fairfax, the University is pleased with its choice to make him our first ever IT Student of the Term!

Before his time at UoF, Ali earned his bachelor’s in his home country of Morocco. He then travelled to France to take courses that his country didn’t have at the time and became a middle school math teacher. However, when his father passed away, Ali returned to Morocco to help support his family of five brothers and four sisters which is when he began working for the Moroccan government. Not long after, his family orientation switched to his son as he became sick in 2000. Ali noted the numerous treatment attempts in many different countries, like Germany, France, and Spain, but only found success in treatment in the United States in 2004. In that time, he says that he tried to resign from his work as a security officer for the Moroccan government, but his bosses didn’t want to let him go, so he began working as a Counselor for the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Washington, D.C., and 17 years later, he is still working in the same position!

Inspired by his younger sister’s graduation with her master’s degree in 2014, Ali realized he wanted to go back to school to further his education. He earned his master’s in cybersecurity in 2018 and then spent two years researching to find the best school to earn his doctorate degree. Ali chose the University of Fairfax because it checked many boxes for him. “University of Fairfax has the most important thing for me: accreditation,” he says. “The second factor was money; I didn’t want to spend $200,000 to get a doctorate when I can have it for $50,000.” University of Fairfax’s DIA program costs $59,210, a low cost compared to other schools, and we offer institutional aid, grants, and loans for those who qualify. Along with that, Ali checked reviews from alumni in his research to choose UoF. “And no regrets, from last year until now, there [are] no regrets,” he says about his choice, “It is beyond expectations… 

If I had to go again, I would make the same choice.”

Ali says that everything he has experienced so far at the University of Fairfax has surpassed his expectations. “The knowledge [I’m learning], it’s a plus. One who thinks he knows everything, knows nothing. One who thinks he can do everything is doing nothing,” he says. He describes how working in Morocco, there was a culture of multi-tasking – and among his duties in his work he is doing just that. He goes from knowing the security of the building to even working on terrorist threats. In choosing the University of Fairfax, Ali was looking for his education to challenge him and allow him to grow. “If you are looking for just a diploma to put on the wall, I think the University of Fairfax is not the right place [for you].” Not only is Ali challenging himself with the knowledge and information in his classes, but he is learning new things that allow him to do more than before.

Not only is Ali the first ever UoF IT Student of the Term, but he was personally nominated by the Dean of Information Assurance and Computer Science Engineering, Dr. Praveena Kommidi. When asked if any of his professors stood out to him, he mentioned Dr. James Webb, senior professor at UoF. “I will remember Dr. Webb because he gave me the first, best advice for the doctorate program,” Ali recalls. Along with that, he will always remember Dr. Timothy Sorber, his mentor, for giving him his first zero on a discussion post. “I asked for a Zoom [call] right away,” he laughs. He not only got the feedback he needed from his advisor, but he was able to get in contact with Dr. Sorber immediately—which he was able to do so with our advanced, 100% online approach to his doctoral education. “Each of [my professors] impacted my life somehow, in some way,” Ali says, “it’s like building a puzzle—all of them contribute to this puzzle in a positive way.”

As he is forced to retire from the Moroccan government in six years and earns his doctoral degree in 2023, Ali looks to pass his knowledge and worldly experience he has gained in his years through teaching the next generations of cybersecurity professionals. When asked if he would recommend the University of Fairfax to others, he says, “I already have!” As he continues, he reflects on his experience at UoF: “The 100% online is great because I couldn’t do it if you asked me to come in… the online program works great for me, it’s flexible.”

The University of Fairfax takes pride in knowing that our students are happy and satisfied with the education they are earning. Soon-to-be Dr. Ali Rah is another example of the diversity of knowledge that comes from our students and the talented individuals that choose our school to further their education and career. We are proud to share the testimonies of our students and learn their history that they bring to the table in their classes. To read more about our current students and alumni, head to our alumni page. To learn how you can become a part of the next graduating class of cybersecurity professionals, head to our website to get in contact with our teams that are waiting to help you on your journey to graduate and terminal degree programs.


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