A Global Perspective
He grew up in South America, has worked in places like Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.), and Egypt, and has even spent time in Nepal and Russia. But it’s Pittsburgh that Bruce Volstad ’92 calls home.
Volstad, a graduate of Robert Morris University’s sport management program, recently completed a term as manager of pre-college programs for Carnegie Mellon University Qatar (CMUQ). Beginning in November of 2008 and up until this past December, he oversaw all outreach programs directed at secondary school students from Qatar and the region, as well as some programs directed at secondary school teachers from Qatar.
“This has been a totally different and incredible experience,” says Volstad. “My worldview has been turned upside down over the last three years. It has been quite an adventure.”
Volstad first heard about the Carnegie Mellon opportunity from a good friend who had moved to Qatar and was working for CMUQ as its director of marketing and public relations. “They were looking for someone with event management and program development experience, and I had plenty of both…so the fit was there.”
It was difficult moving his family half-way around the world to a place that is “about as different from the U.S. as one could get.” But Volstad says the risk was well worth it. “I loved the cross-cultural, international experience,” he says. “We were able to give our kids an international experience that they will hopefully never forget. They will always be able to say that they lived in that part of the world during the historic ‘Arab Spring’.”
The country of Qatar has a population of 1.6 million, only 250,000 of which are Qatari. There are 40 nationalities represented in the CMUQ student body, and just in Volstad’s department alone there was one American, one Palestinian, one Pakistani, one Somalian, and one Filipino.
Volstad says it was exciting to work in such a diverse, international, and cross-cultural setting. “The biggest challenge for most expats that live and work there is adjusting to life in Qatar. It’s a country no bigger than Connecticut, living under Sharia Law, but as modern and wealthy as they come.”
As a non-traditional student at Robert Morris, Volstad, who was named the Outstanding Sport Management major for the 1990-91 academic year, says his RMU experience was different than most students. “I was focused on my studies and at times held up to four part-time jobs to make ends meet.” He also served as a team assistant for the men’s soccer team during the 1989-1991 seasons.
Today, he and his wife, Amy, live on Pittsburgh’s North Side with their three sons, ages 10, 7, and 5.
Although his industry experience certainly prepped him for this international opportunity, Volstad is quick to give credit to Robert Morris for providing the foundation for his success. “All of this was built on the lessons I learned RMU—lessons about the value of hard work, perseverance, attention to detail, thinking outside the box, and risk taking, just to name a few.”
Written by Valentine J. Brkich