Doctoral Student Focus | CDR Youssef Aboul-Enein, USN, DOL

Youssef and Omar

"I knew that part of my post-military retirement plan was to earn a doctorate. My problem was finding the right fit. I found Hood College's doctoral program was an exact fit geographically and financially, as well as time and commitment-wise."

CDR Youssef Aboul-Enein, USN, DOL


  • Organizational Leadership (Doctorate)
  • Business Administration (Doctorate)


  • The George B. Delaplaine Jr. School of Business
  • Education

Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein, USN, is a current student in Hood College's Doctorate of Organizational Leadership program. CDR Aboul-Enein is a career U.S. Navy Commander, who retired in January 2022 after 28 years of active duty. Initially, he served as a Medical Planner, and after 9-11, as a Middle East Foreign Area and Intelligence Officer, specializing in counter-terrorism. He had deployments in the first Liberian Civil War, Bosnia and the Persian Gulf.

CDR Aboul-Enein received a direct commission straight out of graduate school, where he earned a dual master’s degree in healthcare and business administration. Since joining the U.S. military, he also earned additional master’s degrees in strategic intelligence at the National Intelligence University and national security at the National Defense University. He has attended numerous courses on intelligence analysis, regional political security issues, expeditionary warfare and amphibious warfare.

From 2002 to 2006, CDR Aboul-Enein served the late Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as Director for North Africa and Egypt and Assistant Director for Arabian Gulf Affairs. He was part of the interagency team that laid the groundwork for what would evolve into the Global War on Terrorism.

We spoke with CDR Aboul-Enein about his experience in the Doctorate of Organizational Leadership program and how his son, Omar Aboul-Enein, M.S.'21, impacted him during his time at Hood College.

Did Omar’s success contribute to you pursuing your doctorate through Hood College?

My son Omar, M.S.'21, has been an inspiring young man, not only for his passion for robotics research, but also his drive and determination to earn his master’s degree in computer science.

Before he attended Hood College in 2018, I knew that part of my post-military retirement plan was to earn a doctorate. My problem was finding the right fit. While Omar was searching for his own right fit for graduate school, he pointed me as early as 2017 to Hood's Doctoral Programs in Organizational Leadership and Business Administration. It was while helping Omar commute to his graduate evening classes that I made time to meet with Dr. Kathleen Bands on more the one occasion at the Hodson Library. Dr. Bands gave me a thorough introduction to the program, and I found the program was an exact fit geographically and financially, as well as time and commitment-wise. 

Also, Hood College being close to a full-service active military base, Fort Detrick, was a plus. Dr. Bands and I discussed my planned dissertation, which deals with declassified material captured by American combat forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom and focuses on developing Iraqi military leaders in the Al-Bakr Higher Military Academy. I have since been discussing and refining my dissertation as a student of Dr. Nisha Manikoth, the current Director of Doctoral Studies.

How do you feel about you and your son both pursuing your graduate studies at Hood College?

I wish our programs could have overlapped, but he graduated in June 2021, and I started my doctoral studies in late August. I guess we missed each other by a few weeks. Omar helped me get set up at Hood and prepare for orientation day. I would like to add that in our case, the Hood alumni legacy is reversed, where the son graduated and inspired the father.

What advice do you have for parents who have students in graduate programs?

Be supportive. Graduate school requires steady perseverance, so offering moral support is crucial. This support can take the form of buying dinner before or after class, or helping them commute while they study for an exam in the passenger’s seat. Simply talking to them or just listening during the commute, before and after classes are all forms of vital support, even more so in this post-COVID era. Create an ecosystem where distractions are minimized. It is not just financial!

Any other relevant or interesting information that you would like to share?

Yes! As I am conducting this interview with you on the eve of the 2021 Army-Navy Game, I would like to conclude by saying to the Hood College ROTC Cadets, as well as U.S. Army active duty and veteran student body and faculty, “GO NAVY!!! BEAT ARMY!!!”  Thank you—I had to get that out of my system!

Inspired by CDR Aboul-Enein's story to #GOFURTHER in your educational & career pursuits? Learn more about Hood College’s Doctorate of Organizational Leadership by clicking here.