Bryant University senior Odette Mansour '24
Finance and Economics major Odette Mansour '24 is preparing for a career helping others on an international scale.
At Bryant, Odette Mansour is working to build a brighter future for all
Apr 25, 2024, by Stephen Kostrzewa
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When you first meet Odette Mansour ’24, you’re embraced by kindness. Within seconds of engaging hellos, she wants to know what she can do to help, and you get the sense that you are the complete focus of her attention. But behind that warm, and genuine, smile is a will of iron, and hard-won knowledge of what it takes to achieve your dreams.

Odette is relentless. “My goal is to help people, and that is always pushing me forward,” She says, “and when I have a goal, I put everything I have into achieving it.”

Thus far, her journey has taken her around the world from her hometown of Yanouh, Lebanon, to Bryant University — and she’s just getting started. Mansour immigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 2019 with the aim of building a brighter future. Working to support herself through multiple jobs and to improve her grasp of English, she still found time to raise funds for charitable organizations in her home country.

The transition was difficult, Mansour admits, leaving her family and her country. “It was a sacrifice, a choice driven by my dreams and ambitions, but one that weighed heavily on my heart. Before I left Lebanon for the United States, I made a heartfelt plea to my sisters: ‘Take care of our parents,’” she remembers. "I'll come to visit, but I won't be able to share every moment."

But even across that distance, she says, her drive was powered by her family’s love, especially that of her late aunt who would always encourage her to be the best that she could be at everything she tried.

A first-generation college student, Mansour began her undergraduate career at another Rhode Island school but, as she learned more about Bryant’s academic programs and community, she fell in love. “I wanted a school that would support me in becoming a trailblazer in my profession,” she states. “I would always tell people Bryant University is my dream school.”

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Through hard work and with the aid of a supportive transfer admission staff, she became a Bryant Bulldog. “My admission counselor saw something in me that I couldn't see in myself at the time,” she says.

“Bryant didn't just open doors for me; it unleashed a flood of opportunities."

But dreams, however bright, can still be daunting when they come to fruition. When Mansour first came to campus, she doubted herself. “I was terrified. I questioned everything: whether I'd fit in, whether I'd find my place, whether I'd even made the right decision,” she admits.

Rather than fold, or recede from the moment, however, she instead found greater strength, Mansour confronted this challenge, as she has every obstacle and transition in her life, with courage, and grit, and kindness. 

A Finance and Economics double major, Mansour has thrown herself into her education, aiming to develop a wide-ranging set of skills that will prepare her for any situation. “One of the things I love about Bryant is how you are able to combine all of your studies,” she notes.

She’s honed her skills through a variety of experiential learning opportunities that will ensure she’s ready to be the gamechanger she’s always dreamed of becoming. Through Bryant’s highly selective Archway Investment Fund, she’s personally helped to steer a $2.5 million investment portfolio — and gained an invaluable, hands-on understanding of how finance really works. As a member of the university’s Fed Challenge team, she competed with other students on their knowledge of economics and monetary policy and honed her analysis skills.

Mansour’s found several of those opportunities through her Bryant professors. “Every Bryant faculty member is focused on every one of their students and they care the most about what you take away from your time with them,” she says. “They don’t want you to just get good grades. They truly want to help you and make sure you really understand what they’re teaching.”

She has also made connections with Bryant alumni, including senators and captains of industry, through events like the annual Walk Down Wall Street. “Bryant didn't just open doors for me; it unleashed a flood of opportunities,” Mansour reflects.

And although her birth family is in Lebanon, she’s found a second home among the members of Bryant’s close-knit community and helped to extend that sense of belonging to others as a champion of inclusivity and empowerment. “At Bryant, I saw how everyone, even your professors, can become a second family to you,” says Mansour. “Going to school here has made me stronger and more confident because you feel that you have support.”

The founder and president of the Bryant Arab Student Association, she’s worked to connect students and alumni of Arabic origin and to inform the greater Bryant community about Middle Eastern politics, economics, society, culture, and language through educational opportunities and events. “At Bryant, there is a respect for everyone and who they are,” she reflects.  “This is a way for me to share my love for the country I came from.”

In her senior year, she became president of Bryant’s chapter of the Women's Network, which seeks to connect aspiring women-identifying leaders across disciplines through mutual support. “Together we built a vital resource for women on campus - a safe space where they could share experiences and advocate for change,” says Mansour. “Our events were not just about inspiring empowerment, but also about taking action and providing a platform for women to voice their concerns and work together to find solutions.”

“With every step we take towards our aspirations, we leave a piece of ourselves behind, entrusted to the care of those we hold dear.”

Beyond Bryant, she’s applied her drive to help others to the political sphere through multiple internships at the Rhode Island State House. She’s also developed a passion for immigration law reform and has personally facilitated three green card issuances — work she aims to continue in the future.

Now, as graduation approaches, Mansour is preparing to take her passion for connection out into the world. This summer, she’ll take part in the American Enterprise Institute’s Summer Honors Program, where she’ll learn from policy analysts and engage with a diverse cohort of talented students from schools across the country, discussing and debating important issues that affect us all.

In the fall, she’ll pursue her master's degree in environmental and international affairs at Georgetown University, where she’ll learn to make an important difference on a global scale. “My hope,” she says, “is to make a tangible international impact.”

Her current goal, she says, is to one day work at the United Nations, fostering understanding across borders. And, as always, it is unwise to bet against her.

But even as she moves to act globally, a little bit of her heart will always be in Rhode Island. Bryant has been an invaluable step on her journey — a passage that has taken her around the world and will continue to take her even farther — and one that she will never forget.

As an admission fellow, she shares the challenges she’s faced, the success she’s found, and her love for her school with prospective Bryant students. “When I give tours, I tell people my story, about what I’ve learned here, and how Bryant is helping me,” says Mansour. “I tell them, ‘I know that Bryant wants you to succeed.’”

It is bittersweet to leave her home of four years — a home that has shaped her, nurtured her, and lifted her up, she says, but she knows it is in good hands. Mansour is excited for all of the Bryant journeys that will follow hers, journeys, she hopes, that she has made a little easier. “With every step we take towards our aspirations, we leave a piece of ourselves behind, entrusted to the care of those we hold dear,” Mansour notes.

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