In Memoriam: Maha El Meseery, School of Interactive Arts & Technology
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Maha El Meseery on May 13, 2018 as a result of a car accident in Egypt.
Maha joined SFU’s School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT) PhD program in 2016, quickly becoming a Research Assistant at SFU, then a Visual Analytic Mentor for the Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics (VIVA). She was a bright and talented scholar, earning fellowships and the Andrew Wade Memorial Scholarship in Visual Analytics.
Dr. Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, Maha’s supervisor, shares the impression that she left with people and of her academic acumen. “Maha El Meseery was an excellent young woman and an outstanding researcher with a very bright mind. Unafraid to tackle complex problems she created a large software system to make it easier for people to understand big or complex data and then support decision making around the data. Beyond her technical skills, Maha was very kind and always quick to assist her fellow graduate students. Outside of the lab her strong community engagement illustrated her qualities as a human being. Her fellow students and myself miss Maha greatly, she always brought sunshine to the lab.”
Maha made strong connections with others in her program. Fellow PhD student, Ohoud Alharbi had this to share about Maha: “Maha had a great character and a big heart. I knew her for a year, but her smile, collaboration and optimism touched my heart deeply. She did not hesitate to help colleagues from our lab or even other labs. She never missed any social event/gathering inside or outside the university. We miss her around the lab and we hope she is in better place now.”
The loss of Maha’s is also deeply felt outside of the SFU community, as she touched people in communities throughout the world. Her father had this to say about his daughter:
"Maha was the light shined in our lives between 1981 and 2018. She was a child full of smiles and energy and had an easy-going personality. She was interested in education; she got her undergraduate and first master’s degrees from the University of Cairo before moving to Canada. Then she got her second master’s degree from the University of Regina, with a fully paid scholarship, before pursuing her PhD at Simon Fraser University.
She devoted herself to do good in the world. Through Resala Charity, she delivered aid to people in need in Egypt and abroad. She also organized blood donation campaigns. Since January 2001, she played a “big sister” role for orphans. She took care of those children, took them out, taught them manners, and helped them with homework. As well, she taught IT courses (C, C++, VC6, Windows and office) for free.
Over the last 10 years, she also fostered a sister. In order to ensure that she was helping her fostered sister in the best way possible, she took educational psychology courses. Her foster sister is 18 years old now, and during her last visit to Egypt, Maha was helping her to apply for universities. Maha had planned to bring her foster sister to live with her in Canada.
Maha volunteered in an organization called “Egypt scholars”. Her duties were managing volunteers and publishing articles on how to apply to universities and get scholarships. Furthermore, she volunteered to teach non-Arabic speakers Arabic language and culture. Additionally, Maha taught English and the Quran for Arab children who came to Canada and did not speak English.
Since 2014, Maha volunteered to be a board member and web developer at Ownit Canada. Ownit promotes empowerment of all Canadians through community mobilization, education, and mentorship. She helped organize various multicultural events as well as developed and maintained the Ownit website.
She engaged in a lot more community work than mentioned above, but she did not tell us about it all because she did that for her own good intentions and not to show off. She lived for 37 years, but what she accomplished is more than what some people have accomplished in their entire lifetime."