Student’s Profile Series: Nada Arakji

by All Around CMU-Q

by Wadha Al-Jaber


Nada Mohamed Arakji is 21 years old Business Administration senior at Carnegie Mellon University, who also happens to be a professional swimmer representing Qatar at local, regional and international swimming competitions.

Despite the fact that Nada was invited to dine with none other than Meryl Streep (yes, I’m talking about the 3-time oscar winner), and having her own Facebook fan page, Nada remains incredibly grounded and humble, focused on her goals, and true to herself.

This post will definitely inspire you to work even harder, to never make excuses, and to chase your dreams no matter what they are.

So Nada, when did you start swimming and how did you feel at that time?

I started swimming at the age of 9 in a small local club called Tidal Waves. At that time, I just wanted to train so I could be fit and stay healthy. As I started going to more training sessions, I fell in love with such a sport and my coach noticed that I started getting better and better, and saw that I was dedicated and passionate to take swimming on to another level (competition level). I competed in many club and school swimming competitions inside and outside of Qatar and won many medals. My club’s coach thought it was time that I move to higher level swimming, that’s when I was selected to join the Qatar National Team in December 2011.

Considering the fact that you are a professional swimmer, how often do you have to train?

As a professional swimmer, I have to train a lot! So 6 times a week, and sometimes within those days I have to train twice a day.

You represented Qatar in London 2012 summer Olympics, so can you share your experience with us?

Representing my country Qatar at the London 2012 Olympics was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! The whole experience was so surreal, especially in the opening ceremony, carrying our Qatar flag up high with pride. Before my race began, standing on the starting blocks was incredibly emotional. Remembering that I was the first Qatari female swimmer to represent my country Qatar at the Olympics was such an honor and was ready to make history and inspire other young girls to commit and do the sport they want to do, especially swimming. I met many athletes from all around the world and it felt amazing to have the family and the whole Qatari Delegation Team to come and support us.

How do you balance between being a full-time CMU student and a professional athlete?

Balancing between being a full-time CMU student and a professional athlete can be challenging at times but the key thing is to organize my time well. It can get overwhelming at times, but because I am committed and love pursuing both, I remind myself that it will all be worth it in the long-run, and that is my source of motivation when times get tough. Even though I balance between both education and sports, education has always been my priority.

What would you advise students who are aspiring to be professional athletes?

Sports in general is great to maintain a healthy lifestyle regardless of whether you decide to take a sport professionally or not. My advise to students who are aspiring to be professional athletes is to follow your dreams and be the best you can be. Don’t give up! When you put your mind to it, anything is possible. Even when times get tough and you feel pressured, just remind yourself that it will get better and that as long as you try your best, no matter what the outcome is, you should be proud of what you have accomplished.