From Beirut to Michigan


Mariana Doughan (B.S.E. Mech. ’15) explains the best reward of giving

Mariana Doughan
Mariana Doughan
Mariana Doughan (B.S.E. Mech '15) and her sister, Maysaa (B.S. '15)

Her mom tells Mariana Doughan (B.S.E. Mech. ’15)  that she’s always thought differently than others – even as a toddler.  At her second birthday party, Mariana wasn’t nearly as interested in playing with all her new toys, as she was in discovering where to put the batteries in them.

“As a kid, I was always building and taking things apart,” she says. So for those who knew her best, it came as no surprise that teenage Mariana dreamed of becoming an engineer.

But as a girl born in Beirut, she had all the odds stacked against her. 

The Long Road to UM

Surrounded by warfare in Lebanon, Mariana’s parents wanted a better future and a better education for their two daughters. They began the steps to move from Lebanon to the United States in 2000, but the immigration process was long and arduous.

“It actually took nine years,” explains Mariana. “And they were really scared.  As soon as the immigration paperwork was done in 2009, they were like, ‘We're getting out.’”

Mariana was 17 when her family arrived in the U.S.  She spent about a year-and-a-half finishing up high school, before applying to study at University of Michigan-Dearborn. She says the school was the obvious choice because of its excellent standing and convenient location.

“It had a good reputation, and it was close to home,” says Mariana. “It was pretty much the only school I applied to. It had a really good engineering program, and that's where I wanted to go.”

The Gift that Keeps Giving

Mariana says that her UM experience would not have been possible had it not been for scholarships.

“Although I did high school here, I was considered a non-resident student – meaning my tuition would be double what anyone else would pay,” she explains. “But I received a non-residential scholarship, and I also had random little scholarships like Michigan Competitive and stuff like that.”

She continues, “My scholarships didn't cover everything, but I’m grateful. At least when I graduated, I didn't have a lot of debt.”

And that’s why – even though she’s barely out of college herself – Mariana is already paying it forward through the Mariana Doughan Engineering Scholarship.

“I feel like it's a gift that it keeps giving,” she says. “I can invest this amount of money in a human being, and hopefully when they graduate, they're going to try to do the same.”

Mariana also volunteers regularly as an alumni mentor for current UM students. She loves helping others navigate their way through college, and sharing the insight she’s learned so far as a manufacturing engineer for Ford Motor Company.

“I'm usually the youngest mentor during those sessions,” she says. “I’m usually two years older than them, max. I like to answer all their questions and address their fears. I feel like they can relate to me. I keep it fun and relaxed.  I really enjoy it.”

Reward and Return

Mariana shares that one of the biggest surprises post-graduation was how quickly she missed student life at UM-Dearborn.

“Those first couple weeks, I only had this one job from 8 to 5,” she says. “I would get home, sit, watch T.V.  Life was boring.  That's when I decided I'm going to start volunteering, get involved.”

And the end result of her philanthropy and volunteer work has been a great sense of personal fulfillment.

She says, “Sometimes people say, ‘No, I’m not doing this; there’s no reward in return.'”

But Mariana contends these people are wrong.

“There’s ALWAYS a reward and a return in giving like this.You’re investing in human beings, you’re helping others.  There’s always this little self-satisfaction that you feel, and that’s very rewarding for me.”