With the support of scholarships from the American people, dozens of students from across Lebanon began studying for undergraduate degrees at LAU this week.
The University Scholarship Program(USP), administered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), extends LAU education, through full scholarships, to outstanding but economically disadvantaged students from Lebanon’s public schools. This year 53 students are receiving comprehensive scholarships covering tuition fees, leadership and civic engagement training, medical insurance, housing expenses, book costs and a monthly stipend.
Speaking at the USP welcoming orientation, LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra applauded the scholars’ commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. “We are an institution that is student-centered,” he said. “We are part and parcel of society, which means that we must dedicate some of our time to giving back to our communities and to helping find solutions to some of the most important challenges in society.”
Zaynab Ayyad, a second-year communication arts major, was among a number of last year’s USP scholars to welcome newcomers. She acknowledged the extraordinary opportunities the program had given her. “If I hadn’t gotten the scholarship I would have had to work really hard at a part-time job and I wouldn’t be able to give my studies the attention I can give them now,” she said.
More than just a scholarship, USP provides students with mentors and a close-knit community to guide them through their journey at LAU. Joe Karam, a civil engineering student and USP recipient from last year, encouraged incoming scholars to take advantage of extra-curricular activities. “One of the best experiences for me has been Model United Nations,” he said, referring to one of LAU’s vibrant programs designed to nurture student’s negotiation, leadership and diplomacy skills.
USP students are not only ambassadors of the public education system but of the U.S. commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Lebanon, remarked USAID Mission Director Azza El-Abd. “I ask you to take full advantage of your time at LAU. Transfer your knowledge and share it with your communities. But also have fun – join clubs and play sports.”
Since its introduction, USP has become highly competitive, said Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Abdo Ghié, noting that LAU selected the 53 students from among 1,017 applicants.
He urged students to brace themselves for an unpredictable, but rewarding, journey: “The road ahead is not always going to be easy. You will fall down; it’s important that you get up, dust yourself off and continue.”