LAU Welcomes New USP Scholars

Sixty-six Ambassador Merit students celebrated at a colorful event.

By Raissa Batakji

USP scholars pose for a group picture with LAU leadership and US Embassy officials.

Together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), LAU welcomed 66 new Ambassador Merit Scholars who recently started their academic journey at LAU under the University Scholarship Program (USP).

All 236 USP students currently enrolled at LAU gathered at the Wadad Khoury Student Center on October 18. As Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management Dr. Elise Salem noted, they are part of a larger group totaling 541 students who have studied at LAU since the program started in 2010. “Each of these numbers holds a special meaning – it signifies the incredible gift from the United States and the generosity of its people.”

Under USP, USAID provides eligible public high-school students and technical school graduates a scholarship package that includes full undergraduate tuition and board. While growing academically, USP scholars engage in community service, leadership and volunteer activities under close partnership with LAU’s Outreach and Civic Engagement (OCE) unit, headed by Assistant Vice President Elie Samia.

In his address, President Joseph G. Jabbra encouraged the scholars to make the most out of the opportunity that was granted to them – one that allows them to actively participate in “building and shepherding our global village to the shores of sanity, equality, peace and dialogue,” because, he said, without those, there’s no justice. On behalf of the students and the larger LAU community, Dr. Jabbra extended his gratitude to those present from the US Embassy and to the American people as “we firmly believe that the answer to the ills of the world is education.”

For US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Mr. Edward White, “Today symbolizes America’s long-term and enduring commitment to Lebanon’s youth. USP is a symbol of the unwavering friendship between our two countries and our pledge to use education as a tool to make our communities – and the world – a better place.”

Following the speeches, it was time to hear from the scholars firsthand. A video testimony by LAU alumnus and USP scholar Majd El Fakih was played, in which he told his story, highlighting how he managed to engage across multiple student leadership opportunities, start a club and maintain a very high GPA – ultimately becoming his class Valedictorian speaker at the 2018 Commencement.

Three current USP scholars performed for the crowd. Math major Zeina Lezzaik sang while engineering student Georgio Yammine played the piano. Nutrition major Karen Zgheib danced a ballet, her hobby of 10 years that she has proudly brought with her to LAU.

The event closed with the scholars sharing their experiences with embassy officials and LAU leadership, faculty and staff.