Top administrator reflects on career as professional soccer player
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Former professional soccer player Ahmad Boura found his way to a top
university position through his love for the game and higher education.
Before coming to the United States 21 years ago, Ahmad Boura was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon where he developed his love for soccer and desire for learning.
“(I) grew up in a tough neighborhood. I would call it, in a very small home, me and my brothers – four of us – and my mom and dad,” Boura said.
Boura’s parents both had little to no schooling, so they placed a large importance on their children’s educations.
“They always talked about going to school, graduate, go onto college and graduate because they believe if you have a college graduate and get a degree we will do better and so I went to school and maintain my grades, you know, and I was an okay student. I wasn’t an A student – my brothers were A students, I was like a B+ student. I worked hard for my grade, and along the way I play soccer because that’s the only fun thing you can do,” Boura said.
Growing up in a tough neighborhood where he was told no one from the area would ever play soccer professionally only fueled Boura to want to be the best he could be.
That desire came full circle when he got the chance to play semi-professional at the age of 13 and professional at 17.
“So at the age of 13, I was fortunate to play semi-professional in our area, and at 17 I signed a professional contract with the major league. And the reason I did that (was) because I wanted to go to college and I know I cannot afford it, to go to college. So, soccer was my avenue to go to college,” Boura said.
Boura knew his only chance to go to college was through soccer, so when the chance came along to sign the contract with the soccer team Nejmeh or Star he made sure that it would pay for his education.
Boura played professional soccer for eight years in Lebanon before coming to the United States where he played soccer for another two years for Phantoms of New Hampshire. Afterwards, he did a lot of volunteer work in the New England area by coaching youth soccer camps and teams.
He volunteered at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire and was offered his master’s degree for free if he took the job of assistant coach of the men and women’s soccer teams.
“And again, soccer did it for me for me again. I got my education,” Boura said.
Boura coached the teams for three years during which the women’s team was the best in the country, winning seven national championships. The men’s team was in the nations top four.
After receiving his degree, Franklin Pierce University offered Boura a full-time position working between coaching and in the residential halls as the residential director for about three semesters.
Boura was then offered a position in fundraising from the president of the university.
“I remember that day like yesterday, when he invited me into his office. I was an assistant coach you know, and I’m going to the president’s office? I thought I was in trouble honestly. And then over there I was like shaking. So I sat in his office – a great man – and he said, ‘Hey, I’m hearing a lot of good things about you,’ and I said, ‘Okay, that’s good. That’s a good start.’ He said to me, ‘I would like to offer you an adventure.’ I said, ‘Okay?’ ‘I want you to work for me as a fundraiser,’ he said to me. By that time I was learning the language and I asked him, ‘What do you mean?’ He told me, ‘I want you to raise money for me for the university.’ (I) said, ‘I don’t understand.’ He said, ‘You go ask people for money.’ I said, ‘Ah okay. Why do you think I can do this job well?’ He said to me, ‘One, education made a difference in your life, changed your life. And you like to talk to people. And you’re friendly in a way. And you’re funny in a way, but most importantly you value the concept of higher education and its impact on people and you value your experience in the United States,” Boura said.
After working at Franklin Pierce, Boura took the position of vice president for institutional advancement at Morningside College. He additionally managed the offices of Alumni Relations, Development and Advancement Services.
During his time at Morningside College, the college was undertaking its largest fundraising campaign in its history. Under Boura’s leadership they exceeded their campaign goal of $50 million, five years ahead of schedule while expanding their donor base and increasing alumni participation.
Now, Boura is the vice president for university advancement for Chico State and the chief executive officer of the university foundation doing exactly what he loves, working with all kinds of people.
“If you prepare yourself with the right foundation of education and surround yourself with a bunch of smart people around you, people can see how gifted you are and people will give you a chance. If you work hard and you’re honest then everything will fall in place. And I’ve been living by that philosophy for my entire life,” Boura said.
Victoria Rohrer can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.