Giving to LAU


Lending a Helping Hand

Thanks to the generosity of Maryland-based Lebanese expatriates Annie and Sami Totah, LAU is pleased to have awarded a new scholarship for high-achieving students this semester.

Known as the Sami and Annie Totah Scholarship, this $5,000 award was established as a way to provide academically gifted Lebanese students with the financial support that they need to pursue their dreams through higher education.

Annie Totah, who moved to the U.S. with her husband more than forty years ago and established a commercial real estate business in the Washington, D.C. area says her family values inspired the scholarship.

“My mother, who was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide and an orphan who worked hard late in her life to become a successful nurse, instilled in me two things: First, that I should always do my best no matter what. Second, to do what I can to make this world a better place,” she says. “With this scholarship I am trying to put the lessons that my mother taught me into practice. I also wanted to be able to give back to Lebanon, the country that helped me achieve my own dreams.”

Totah’s idea was to establish a scholarship that will be awarded annually to a student who displays academic excellence and leadership potential at either LAU, or Totah’s own alma mater the American University of Beirut. The two institutions will alternate giving the scholarship each year. The scholarship is officially presented at a ceremony during the American Task Force for Lebanon’s annual gala in Washington D.C. each spring.

Totah says she hopes the scholarships will enable gifted students to excel in their chosen professions. “Behind every success story there has almost always been a big challenge. Hopefully, with this scholarship, we will help eliminate some of the challenges for these students so they can achieve their dreams.”

LAU’s Rima Khabbaz, a senior Pharmacy student, is the first recipient of the Totah’s scholarship. Khabbaz says she was honored to be chosen. “The scholarship has given me even more motivation to maintain a high GPA. I’ve worked hard over the last two years so it’s nice to see that my efforts have not only paid off but have also been recognized.” She adds she was “very touched” that LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra met her personally to congratulate her on the scholarship.

LAU is more committed than ever to attracting the brightest students in Lebanon and the Arab world, believing matriculation should be based on academic ability, not ability to pay. During the 2010-11 academic year, LAU extended financial aid or scholarships worth over $15.4 million to over 2,000 students in all.

With the help of generous donors, the university’s Financial Aid and Scholarships Office also continues to expand its assistance to students through merit-based scholarships or grants, work-aid programs and loans. “Education is the best weapon, or rather the magic wand, for achieving success and for creating good citizens,” says Totah. “That is why we are so interested in supporting deserving students at LAU.”