Giving to LAU


A Happy Sendoff to Tomorrow’s Leaders

A sense of accomplishment swept across Byblos campus this summer as an exceptional group of students received their diplomas.

The nine scholars who graduated on May 21 are part of a unique group of 53 undergraduates enrolled in LAU’s Middle East Partnerships Initiative’s-Tomorrow’s Leaders (LAU-MEPI TL) program. Jointly funded by the U.S. Department of State and the university, LAU-MEPI TL provides full scholarships for promising students from across the Arab world to study at LAU.

Representing a diverse mix of backgrounds, interests and ambitions, students are selected for their academic credentials and commitment to leadership work in their communities. LAU’s first MEPI class, comprised of six students, enrolled in 2008.

The LAU-MEPI TL program complements the university’s ethos of harnessing not just the academic excellence of students but also a strong commitment to serving others. Its curriculum is designed to promote civic-mindedness, critical thinking and the professional experience required to contribute to positive change in their societies.

Students undertake community service, internships, roundtable discussions, and leadership training. They also spend a semester studying in the U.S. One field trip took the students to Beirut’s Bourj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp, where they learnt about camp life from LAU students who reside there and visited an old people’s home.

“The trip was a big eye opener to the hardships that other people face in life,” said Dama Shamlan, 21, who has been active in civil society in her native Bahrain. “I believe it also reinforced the desire among our group to become agents of change.”

The importance of playing a positive role in society was reinforced by keynote speaker Robert McGregor, chairman of PRO International business consultancy agency, and former chairman of INDEVCO Foundation. “Leadership is all about the team, it is not an ‘I’ thing. Be people of virtue, vision and service,” he advised the graduating class.

“You will soon leave this institution but I plead with you to go out with the values that you learned here, and to change the world for the better,” said LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra in his address to the students. He thanked the U.S. Government and people for funding a program designed to contribute to a more prosperous region.

“I’ve been hugely inspired by what I’ve seen today,” said Richard Mills, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. “I know that LAU has provided an enriching educational environment and given these students the tools to make a difference in their communities.”

The skills and values instilled by the LAU-MEPI TL program mean its cohorts are well prepared for life after university, said Dr. Walid Touma, director of LAU’s Enterprise Office, which oversees the program. “There are revolutionary ideas among these students and I am so proud of every single one of them.”

Editor’s note: A passage was excised from this article on December 20, 2018 in response to a GDPR request.