AMIDEAST is pleased to announce that eight outstanding young men and women have received full scholarships covering their undergraduate studies through the Diana Kamal Scholarship Search Fund (DKSSF), an AMIDEAST initiative that seeks to open doors to educational opportunity by matching highly qualified, deserving Arab students with scholarships from U.S. institutions. Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Concordia, Grinnell, and Wilson Colleges, and Adelphi, Harvard, and Vanderbilt Universities awarded the scholarships to the four men and four women, who come from Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and the West Bank.
We also congratulate four DKSSF scholars who graduated this month: Yara Wehbe from Lebanon, who received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Harvard University; Sarah Ghattass from Egypt, who received a B.S. in Biological Chemistry from Grinnell College; Ahmed Fjer from Morocco, who received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from American University in Washington, DC; and Nidal Alkafarna from Gaza, who received a B.S. in Chemistry, with a minor in Biology, from Carthage College.
AMIDEAST established the DKSSF in 2007 as a way to expand access for bright and promising, but economically underprivileged students to educational opportunities in the United States. The DKSSF identifies promising students and prepares them to qualify for four-year scholarships to select U.S. institutions of higher education. It has thus far matched 29 youth from Egypt, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen with scholarships from 19 U.S. institutions.
DKSSF scholars excel academically, regularly making the dean’s list and earning other recognition in their studies. They also thrive in the U.S. college campus environment, taking advantage of extra-curricular activities and community service, while bringing diverse perspectives and global awareness to their campuses, as was evident during the Arab spring, when many DKSSF scholars participated in teach-ins, assemblies, and other venues to share their perspectives on the historic changes underway in their countries. Our DKSSF students are also eager to take the knowledge and experience acquired during their U.S. studies back to their countries to help improve conditions there.
Our 2012 Graduating Seniors
Yara Wehbe from Lebanon graduated from Harvard University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In addition to her challenging academic program, which included making a phone for her senior project that targets the mobile development movement in the developing world, she considers the “many lessons learnt outside of the classroom” to be most memorable. They included helping to restart the Harvard College Engineering Society and serving as assistant director of the Harvard Model United Nations conference. She was also head math coach for a nonprofit that assists underprivileged youth. “I truly value the role that DKSSF played in such an important life decision and realize how lucky I was to have received such counseling.”
Sarah Ghattass from Egypt graduated from Grinnell College with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Chemistry. Active in many campus organizations, Sarah also spent a semester in Copenhagen, where she discovered her interest in public health through a project comparing health care and public services in Denmark, Sweden and Estonia versus those in the United States and in Egypt. Internships in Egypt last summer reinforced her passionate desire to improve Egypt’s health care system. She is heading to University of California/San Francisco to pursue an M.A. in Global Health Sciences. “I am in every possible sense very grateful for the life that DKSSF has provided me.”
Ahmed Fjer from Morocco graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from American University in Washington, DC. Besides playing intramural soccer each semester, he helped promote and raise funds for an emergency financial aid fund for AU students. “Without the DKSSF, I would never have had the opportunity to come back to the US [after spending a year of high school in Illinois on the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program] and get my diploma. It has been the best four years of my life and a great learning experience.”
Nidal Alkafarna from Gaza graduated from Carthage College with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Biology. He served as president of the International Friendship Society, was nominated for the All College Leadership Award 2012, and participated in a Model United Nations conference and in Carthage College’s Celebration of Scholars. “Without the DKSSF, none of my experience here would have been possible. DKSSF was able to open this huge door for me and allow me to come here, get a high caliber education, and get an experience of a life time.”
Meet the 2012 DKSSF Scholars
Nadia Ali of Tunisia will attend Harvard University, where she intends to study international business and economics with hopes of continuing at Harvard Business School for her master's degree. In high school, she pursued a variety of activities including Model United Nations, debate, swimming, and tennis and spent an extra year of high school in the United States as a YES student. She ultimately hopes to return to Tunisia and help improve her country's economic infrastructure.
Hadil Ayoub of the West Bank will attend Barnard College as a NeXXt Scholar, an initiative that encourages international women undergraduates to major in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Hadil hopes to pair her interest in arts and graphic design with a degree in computer science, while also expressing an interest in developing the field of anime in the Palestinian Territories as a way of presenting a narrative to be shared with the international community.
Rani Banajrian of Lebanon will attend Vanderbilt University. In addition to being one of the top students in his class, he participated in a variety of school activities including the Model United Nations and his high school's Student Life Organization. He was also selected to be a Lebanese cultural ambassador to Children International Summer Villages.
Fady Eid of Lebanon will attend Adelphi University. He graduated among the top of his class at Saint Joseph Cornet Shehwan and participated in nearly every school event. Fady is fascinated with biology and artificial tissues and plans to major in biology, with a strong interest in tissue cells research. His favorite hobby is cooking.
Rostom Mbarek of Tunisia will attend Grinnell College, where he plans to study economics, with hopes of ultimately obtaining a Ph.D. He looks forward to meeting people from all over the world and joining a variety of the clubs and activities that the college offers. Rostom was selected to be the youngest regional observer for the recent elections in Tunisia and credits this experience with motivating him to study politics and economics.
Abdallah Shuhadeh of Jordan is originally from Jordan but moved to Bahrain with his family because of his father's work. He will attend Concordia College, where he intends to study physics. He hopes to become a scientific researcher and make significant contributions to the field of physics. "I am looking forward to discovering new strengths and abilities, conquering new challenges, and solving new problems from new aspects and different ways.”
Ghada Tafesh of Gaza will attend Wilson College. She plans to study biology and ultimately hopes to pursue a career in medicine. She is excited to begin her studies in the U.S. and looks forward to both engaging with a variety of perspectives and cultural understandings as well as sharing her own. "This scholarship proves to me that nothing is impossible in life as long as I am strong and determined. I am eagerly looking forward to starting college in the U.S."
Rasha Younes of Lebanon will attend Bryn Mawr College, where she plans to major in creative writing and psychology. She is an outspoken, determined person with a strong personality and excellent communication and presentation skills. Between dance practice, a love of reading, schoolwork, housework, and many other demands, she managed to divide her time by the minute. She is a leader by nature, someone who aims to make a different and will definitely succeed in her endeavor.