Queen Noor Al-Hussein of Jordan began her extraordinary life as Lisa Halaby, a wealthy, strikingly beautiful, American woman of Syrian descent who was educated in the Ivy League. In 1978, she married King Hussein of Jordan, which made her the first U.S.-born queen of an Arab country. For the next two decades, until her husband's death in 1999, this charismatic and articulate queen became a leading voice for her country. In particular, she was known for her philanthropic work that included advocacy for children, peace, environmental protection, and improved Arab-Western relations. In recognition of her many efforts, Queen Noor has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates in international relations, law, and humane letters. She has also published two books, including a New York Times No. 1 bestseller that was published in 17 languages.
Before joining a royal family, Queen Noor was a member of Princeton’s freshman class, matriculating in 1969, which happened to be the very first coed class in the University’s history. Known to her friends as Lisa, she was also a member of the Princeton University's first women's ice hockey team. She took a year’s leave from college in 1971-72, studying photography and skiing in Aspen, Colorado, where she supported herself by waitressing. On her return to Princeton the next fall, she plunged into her studies with a new seriousness and her hard work paid off. In 1974, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture and urban planning.
Despite her many obligations across the globe, Queen Noor has made efforts to remain a part of the Princeton community since her graduation. Notably, in 2000 she returned to her alma mater to deliver that year's Baccalaureate address. In her speech, she focused on the need for public service, while also explaining what attending Princeton meant to her. "My time here offered a wealth of uncommon experiences that helped prepare me surprisingly well for the career I would eventually make. Among the most useful were the diplomacy and survival skills."
Later, Princeton would reciprocate the sense of respect for one of their best-known graduates. In 2015, Queen Noor was back on campus as the recipient of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson award, a highly prestigious honor given to Princeton alumni who follow in Wilson's mission of world peace and his call to service. As a public servant who has spent decades as an advocate for human rights and intercultural understanding across the world, the school couldn't have selected a better representative to inspire and motivate the next generation.