Outstanding Scholarship Students Honored at Ceremony

Graduating USP students bid farewell to LAU.

By Hoda Hilal

Representatives from USAID and the US Embassy, along with members of the LAU family and graduating USP students

After years of hard work, 67 graduates of the University Scholarship Program (USP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), stood with pride as LAU faculty, USAID officials, parents and friends applauded in celebration of the class’s graduation. LAU bid farewell to the fourth cohort of USP graduates and prepared to welcome a new group of students. USP offers full scholarships to public school students to pursue higher education. Students are required to engage in volunteer work, attend leadership and career workshops, and complete internships to hone the skills necessary for successful careers after graduation.

USAID representatives in attendance included the USAID Mission Director Dr. Anne Patterson, Director of the Office of Education Bruce McFarland, Senior Education Specialist Zeina Farhat Salame, and Outreach Specialist Michelle S. Rustom.

USP, which started in 2010, “has brought about greener pastures, educational leadership and civic engagement,” said LAU’s Assistant Vice President for Outreach and Civic Engagement Elie Samia, who coordinates the program. He emphasized that the program’s three objectives – dedication to academic excellence, civic mindedness and productive employment – have been fully met thanks to LAU’s commitment to student-centeredness.

LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra thanked the American people for their generosity and congratulated the students: “As the moment of separation comes closer, I stand in awe of what you have been able to achieve.” Underlining the important role played by youth in rebuilding Lebanon, Dr. Jabbra added, “You will go out there either to pursue your studies further, to find a very successful job or to build a family, but most importantly, to respond to the needs of our beloved Lebanon.”

Jabbra noted that the graduates will be joining an extended network of 45,000 alumni across 43 chapters all around the world. Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations Abdallah Al Khal welcomed the new alumni and invited them to remain connected to their alma mater through a chapter specially established for USP graduates.

Two distinguished USP graduates gave their testimonials and agreed that their experience at LAU had been nothing less than life changing. “After applying for USP, I answered the phone call with excitement, since I knew that moment would change my life forever, and it did,” said Nay Awkar, a new graduate of the Nursing Program. Majd El Fakih gave his colleagues inspirational advice. “We are now at a stage when we are sculpting the future that we want. So do your best and never be satisfied with less than the best. And always give back and enjoy service.”

On behalf of USAID, Dr. Patterson expressed her pleasure and pride in celebrating the students’ graduation, hard work and commitment to their communities. “Today’s graduation is a testament of the power of education,” she stressed. “I am confident that with the solid foundation you received here at LAU, you will not only make important contributions to your communities, but you will help build a democratic, politically stable and economically strong Lebanon.”