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Two generations choose Kingston for study abroad

  • three people standing before ruins
  • woman in front of London Eye

Posted on April 16, 2019

Now a world traveler with multiple countries and continents under her belt, Grand Valley alumna Jamie (Keclik) Mahmoud said her love affair with travel started while on a study abroad trip in Kingston, United Kingdom, in 1994.

Mahmoud, who works as a special education teacher and case manager at Westmont High School, in suburban Chicago, will return to Kingston in June to visit her daughter, Isabella Mahmoud, a current Grand Valley student studying there.

Staff members at the Padnos International Center said the Mahmouds could represent the first time two generations of Lakers have studied abroad at the same destination.

Isabella, who is a biology major, said she wanted to study in Kingston because her mother took her there when she was 5 years old.

"I barely have any recollection of my time in London, but I wanted to return to a place that sparked my love for traveling," Isabella said. "I actually had no idea my mom went to Kingston until I told her I was interested in it."

At Kingston, she is taking classes in psychology, physiology, Arabic and British culture. 

Jamie said the summer she spent at Kingston University gave her a deep appreciation for the world's cultures and a passion to study them. Prior to the start of her study abroad semester, she traveled with backpacks through Europe with her sister and Melissa Spencer Winker, a Grand Valley student.

"As soon as I finished my undergraduate degree at Grand Valley, I was off to Australia for a year on a student work visa," she said. "From that trip, I spent about five years traveling and working around the world."

Jamie said she and her husband, Issam, have instilled a love of travel in their children, and have taken them on trips to Asia and Europe.

"The greatest compliment, as a parent, has been Bella's desire to see the world like I have," she said. "I am so excited for her as she explores a new place each weekend and am assured that I have done a good job raising a globally conscious and aware citizen."

Jamie earned a bachelor's degree in advertising and public relations from Grand Valley, a master's degree in education from Dominican University and a learning behavior specialist endorsement from Roosevelt University.