By Karen Kelly
Photos by Bryan Gagnon

Growing up in the United Arab Emirates, Nour El Farouk never imagined a career in politics.

“Entering the field of politics would have never crossed my mind. When thinking of the future, I saw myself more in the field of visual arts, music, or even fashion and beauty,” says El Farouk.

When it was time to attend university, her family—of Moroccan origin but who had spent more than two decades abroad—moved to Canada and eventually Ottawa. El Farouk wasn’t sure which program to choose but, influenced by her mother’s work at the United Nations, she decided on political science and international relations.

Nour El Farouk

“Even though I hadn’t grown up in Canada, I quickly came to love politics,” she says. “I was fortunate enough to get a position as an administrative assistant for a senator and it was the most exciting job ever. I was in the heart of parliamentary affairs.”

El Farouk’s experience in the Senate motivated her to pursue a master’s degree at Carleton’s prestigious Clayton Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management.

“I learned so much during two short years in the Senate that I just wanted to learn more and the pandemic presented the perfect opportunity,” explains El Farouk, who was by then a legislative assistant for the Government Representative in the Senate, Senator Peter Harder. “When I read that MPM was a very exclusive program, I worried I wouldn’t get in. But with my experience on the Hill and a recommendation letter from Senator Harder, I was accepted.”

El Farouk says one of the strengths of the program is just the sheer number of professional connections you make among the students, the faculty, and the guest speakers.

“One of the really awesome highlights of this program is the breadth of experience and knowledge that is shared between the people who are there,” she says. “Who would have thought that the honorable Joe Clark or the honorable Kim Campbell would know someone like me? I don’t think this would have ever been possible if it wasn’t for the connections that the professors have and their ability to bring people like that to speak to us and share their experience.”

El Farouk is sharing her newfound knowledge and experience in her role as a parliamentary affairs assistant at the Senate of Canada. She encourages other students to look for ways to get their foot in the door.

“I went from administrative assistant to executive assistant to legislative assistant to parliamentary affairs assistant in just a few years. So, if there is an opportunity, just take it. If you can prove your worth, people will see that and really appreciate that.”

Monday, June 20, 2022 in , ,
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