A Celebration of Life

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Dr. Hassan at the beach a few years ago, where he was happiest.
Dr. Hassan at the beach a few years ago, where he was happiest.

In 1948, 17-year-old Hassan Ahmad Hassan and his family became refugees. They were forced to leave their home in Caesarea, a Palestinian town in what is now northern Israel, with little more than the clothes on their backs. Soon thereafter, his father passed away and left him the young patriarch of his family. Despite all that was happening, Hassan was able to enroll in university and graduate school, ultimately earning a PhD in 1956. 

In 1959, Dr. Hassan became a professor at Virginia Tech’s aerospace engineering department and later moved on to North Carolina State University (NCSU). Faculty and students alike highly respected him. Although he was a tough teacher, he is remembered for always wanting to see his students succeed. Hassan earned the reputation of working on the hardest problems and never giving up until he solved them. In his children, he instilled the notion that “if you want to achieve things in life, it is up to you to make them happen.” 

From Refugee to Philanthropist

Throughout his lifetime, Hassan continued to support the Palestinian community he cherished, frequently donating to Anera. He inspired generosity in his family as well — following his death earlier this year, his eldest daughter, Mona Hassan, contributed a $10,000 match to Anera’s 2019 Ramadan campaign, which raised over $80,000 and delivered food packages to 2,050 families across Palestine and Lebanon.

As a legacy, and to keep his love for Palestine going, Hassan and his wife Nabila, endowed the Hassan Family Fellowship Fund, to support engineering students from Palestine so they can pursue graduate degrees at NCSU. This was his way of giving back. He “loved Palestine until the end,” says his daughter, Mona. “And if he could have had things his way, he would have gone back to Palestine in his old age and lived out his life there.” 

While he will be missed, his loved ones will forever be extremely proud of all that he accomplished during his long life and career, and what he enabled for them and so many others.



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