Kurdish Master’s student graduates from Harvard with distinction 

The 45-year-old Harvard graduate finished his primary and secondary studies in Germany.
author_image Kurdistan 24
Alan Aqrawi, 45, takes a selfie with his fellow graduates in the background, May 29, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Peri-Khan Aqrawi)
Alan Aqrawi, 45, takes a selfie with his fellow graduates in the background, May 29, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Peri-Khan Aqrawi)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – One thing that Alan Aqrawi has probably been able to prove wrong in his life was the remarks of his primary school instructor, who told his mother that she should not expect much from him. Now, he is a graduate of Harvard University’s Master’s program. 

Born and raised in Germany, Aqrawi is the son of Tariq Kamil Aqrawi and Shirin Ali Abdulaziz Kittani, who decided to leave for Europe in the 1960s to pursue their studies. Tariq Kamik is from the Kurdistan Region's Akre (Aqra), known as the capital of Newroz (Kurdish New Year). Kittani is from Amedi.

The 45-year-old Harvard graduate finished his primary and secondary studies in Germany.

One day, his primary school teacher told Shirin Kittani that she didn’t believe her son had what it takes to pursue higher studies and should attend a vocational secondary school since “nothing much will come of Alan” since he was a child of political refugees, who usually had lower chances to pursue studies due to language barriers, his sister Peri-Khan Aqrawi recalled to Kurdistan 24.

The remarks did not discourage the Kurdish entrepreneur from studying hard. He was able to win a scholarship that allowed him to study nuclear physics at the Friedrich-Wilhelm’s University of Bonn in Germany. 

Alan Aqrawi (right) poses for a photo with his father Tariq Kamil Aqrawi at Harvard Yard during his commencement, May 29, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Peri-Khan Aqrawi)
Alan Aqrawi (right) poses for a photo with his father Tariq Kamil Aqrawi at Harvard Yard during his commencement, May 29, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Peri-Khan Aqrawi)

When Aqrawi threw his graduation cap on Sunday at Harvard Yard, he had already taken a turn in his career path. Following 13 years of work experience in nuclear physics with the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he developed FlipFam, an app for football predictions and trivia on which sports enthusiasts can earn limited-edition non-fungible tokens (NFTs) the better they play. He was able to bring some Harvard professors and a Google director aboard his 15-member team. 

Having graduated with distinction from Harvard’s prestigious Master’s program, Aqrawi focused his studies on entrepreneurship, machine learning, and blockchain technology. He was on the dean’s list as well. 

Aqrawi’s parents were both active members of the Kurdish resistance movement against the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. They hosted numerous notable Kurdish politicians, artists, poets, and intellectuals at their home. 

Having 85,0000 users by May 2022, Aqrawi’s app fulfilled its $800,000 pre-seed funding round, with world-class football players investing.

The Harvard University's Dean's List Certificate which wsa awarded to Alan Aqrawi for academic excellence, May 29, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Peri-Khan Aqrawi)
The Harvard University's Dean's List Certificate which wsa awarded to Alan Aqrawi for academic excellence, May 29, 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Peri-Khan Aqrawi)