Diane Matar '09 (Lebanon)

April 30, 2010

I am a 2009 MESPOM graduate and I am grateful for the opportunity I was given through my thesis work to prepare the ground for getting my dream job! It all started in March 2009, when I’ve put up a project plan for my research with my advisor Dr. Brandon Anthony from CEU. My topic was about “Improving the effectiveness of protected areas management in Lebanon”, and I was already eager to come back home and apply my knowledge acquired through 2 years of intensive environmental studies in MESPOM. Back home, I had to reconnect with the network of people in charge of nature reserves, convince them of the value of my research and foster a constructive collaboration. In 3 months, I had done a thorough review of the international and local literature, interviewed major stakeholders in the field, run three workshops on 2 nature reserves, attended national workshops and written most of my thesis paper, which later qualified me for a graduation with Distinction! Four months after my graduation, I was contacted by an Association managing a newly designated biosphere reserve in Lebanon (Jabal Moussa www.jabalmoussa.org) asking me to join their dedicated team. Today, I am the Environmental Officer and Technical Expert of the Association, and I take major responsibilities in launching the reserve’s ecotourism and management programs.

The results of my thesis work have been incorporated into the Management Plan of Al-Shouf Cedar nature reserve. Thanks to the shared efforts of Dr. B. Anthony, a publication is also under way pending final editing by Conservation Biology- one of the best peer-reviewed journals in this field.

It takes hard work to reach our goals, but while choosing your thesis subject, it’s good to bear 2 things in mind: know what you want to achieve and then use your thesis as an opportunity to get closer to your professional goals! As my Manchester teacher Dr. Steve Boult mentioned once in class: “It is your chance to create something perfect”… and you don’t get that chance very often in life, so don’t miss it :).