Saudi Students Who Died Saving American Children From Drowning Honored With Posthumous Degrees

The family, professors, members of the Islamic community, and Saudi dignitaries were on hand as UHart and WNE recognized the Saudi students' heroism.

Pic of Chicoppee River Falls
Lyman School / Wikimedia Commons

The family, professors, members of the Islamic community, and Saudi dignitaries were on hand as UHart and WNE recognized the Saudi students' heroism.

Saudi students Jasser Al-Rakah and Theeb Al-Yami were awarded for their valor posthumously by the universities they attended for their part in attempting to rescue two young children from drowning in the Chicopee River in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. According to Arab News, both the University of Hartford (UHart) in Connecticut and the Western New England University (WNE) in Massachusetts recognized the sacrifice the two Saudi students made by bestowing engineering degrees to them this week.

The Inquisitr previously reported on the drowning of the two international students, who are also cousins, back in July. Twenty-five-year-old Jasser Al-Rakah and 27-year-old Theeb Al-Yami were on a picnic next to the river June 29, 2018, when they saw the distressed mother of the youngsters trying to save them. The river current where the two youths were swimming is particularly treacherous because it’s where two currents meet, emergency responders said at the time.

Both Al-Rakah and Al-Yami were swept away by the Chicopee River’s strong current, but thanks to the Saudi student’s efforts, and to those others that helped, the children were able to make it safely to the shore. “The American media are referring to them as heroes,” said the brother of one of the victims after it happened.

What added to the tragedy is that the two altruistic Saudi students died a few weeks before they were supposed to graduate. Additionally, the Saudi students hadn’t been back home to visit their families in three years. Mr. Alyami was pursuing a degree in engineering at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, Mr. Alrakah, on the other hand, was studying to be a civil engineer at Western New England University in Massachusetts.

The universities granted the international students the posthumous degrees during a ceremony on September 14, with UHart granting Al-Yami a Bachelor’s degree in engineering and WNE granting Al-Rakah his degree in civil engineering. During the ceremony, the president of WNE, Dr. Anthony Caprio, expressed the university’s and the academic community’s gratitude for Jasser Al-Rakah and Theeb Al-Yami’s brave and selfless actions.

The September 14 ceremony was attended by the Saudi students’ families, professors from both the universities, and by members of the nearby Islamic community. Some notable Saudi dignitaries were also in attendance, including Sami Al-Sadhan, the Deputy Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States; Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa, the cultural attache at the Saudi Embassy; and Khalid Al-Sharif, the New York Consul General.