Alumna’s New Book Shines a Light on the Global Pandemic Experience Through Photos

Christina Hawatmeh, BA ’10, is the CEO and co-founder of Scopio, the first female founded NFT marketplace and the first photography focused NFT marketplace.

Christina Hawatmeh
July 06, 2022

Over 25,000 businesses use Scopio to purchase images and hire global artists to commission illustration, photography and 3D graphics. Hawatmeh was named one of NY Finance’s Top Entrepreneurs to Follow in 2021, and has been featured on CNN and Entrepreneur, as has Scopio in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 annual list. We recently caught up with Christina to learn how GW and the Elliott School influenced her career.

GW: Tell us about what you are doing now and why it matters to you? How has Scopio pivoted during and after the pandemic?

CH: My team and I are working relentlessly to elevate unheard voices through images. This has led us to scale up Scopio in a variety of ways: from shifting to crypto payments, developing our photography-based NFT marketplace, creating an app for our contributors, and getting diverse artists into the largest organizations in the world. Most recently, we launched an historic image book on 2020 with HarperCollins on June 21, called The Year Time Stopped: The Global Pandemic in Photos – my proudest accomplishment in my career.

GW: What drew you to GW and the Elliott School for your undergraduate studies?

CH: It was my absolute dream to go to GW. I wanted to be the next Madeleine Albright. Growing up in Saint Louis, Missouri, I always wanted to be in the epicenter of the world to affect change. GW was in the middle of it all, and I knew if I could just make it there, I could make things happen.

GW: How did the Elliott School influence your professional choices and successes?

CH: The school greatly influenced my global perspective. It’s why Scopio is a globally-minded company with 14,000 artists in 150 countries and over 25,000 clients in 60 countries utilizing our services. Having a globally minded team at Scopio has allowed us to build a well-rounded product.

Similarly, our new book, The Year Time Stopped, contains photos from over 100 cities around the world because I wanted to emphasize the global shared experience of the pandemic. We spent two years making sure we did not leave any subject out. We hope the book will change people’s perspectives of the events of 2020, reinforce the shared connections we forged, and serve as a reflection of the year 2020 for future generations. Every time I open the book, I see something new that makes me feel resilient.

GW: Are there particular classes and professors who stand out in your mind? Who helped you on your career path?

CH: Professor Dina Khoury supervised my paper on how organizing on Facebook leads to real-life demonstrations that affect real-world change. It was a radical idea that anything online would translate into real life. When I was rejected from doing an official thesis, she believed in me and let me bring my idea to life in her spare time. As an undergraduate, I took her master’s class as well, and I loved challenging myself at that level.

I also took the hard road and learned Arabic. As an Arab American, it was difficult for me to learn with non-Arab students who were getting higher grades than me, as I didn’t already have that knowledge of the written language. Through my Jordanian family, I had fluency in colloquial Arabic, which I had been speaking all my life. By acquiring written Arabic, I learned so much about myself and feel that I can better access nuances of my own culture that I couldn't before. Becoming literate in Arabic is one of the most important accomplishments of my life. The second is this historic book that is making its way to bookshelves all over the world due to Harper Collins’ incredible reach.

GW: What would you say to current Elliott School students who want to make a positive difference in the world?

CH: Make friends! Meet people with different ideas and expand your mind. Make friends with people who have a shared dream. Build small ideas around problems you want to solve or even share your paper topics to start thinking on a practical level about issues you are studying.

I believe in fieldwork and experience. Start working in your field right away. I interned in Congress and at the Jordanian Embassy. I was also involved in a lot of clubs and listened to every talk I could.

Make sure you add your classmates on LinkedIn and keep in touch. There were tons of smart people in my classes. I wish I could see where they are now and collaborate. Now I keep a spreadsheet of every interesting person I meet.

You can hear more from Christina about her book in the recent virtual event hosted by Elliott School Alumni Programs.