Taking Success Back to Its Roots

LAU and USAID celebrate USP students and their service to the community.

By Raissa Batakji

Dr. Salem, AVP for Outreach and Civic Engagement Elie Samia and USAID Education Office Director Bruce McFarland view the students’ projects.
A group photo to commemorate the event.

Together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), LAU celebrated the culture of community service, whilst highlighting University Scholarship Program (USP) students’ achievements. The event took place on April 11 on Beirut campus, where 29 community service projects lined the Adnan Kassar School of Business lobby for all to see.

The ambitious and generous USP program is made possible with the support of the American people through USAID. Student beneficiaries get to experience LAU’s rigorous academic standards and a campus environment that promotes social equality and critical thinking.

On behalf of President Joseph G. Jabbra, Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management Elise Salem welcomed distinguished guests, faculty, staff and students. She thanked USAID not only for their generosity, but also for “a provocative, and forward-looking gift,” as it gives students the opportunity to develop both their academic and leadership components.

In turn, USAID Education Office Director Bruce McFarland conveyed the agency’s pride in the students, saying: “You are building the life skills while positively impacting the lives of others around you by encouraging youth volunteerism in Lebanon. This gives meaning to your academic work, builds stable communities, and leads the country to a better future.”

McFarland offered context on the US government’s contribution to Lebanon. Since 2010, USAID has contributed more than $100 million for students through the USP. He reassured attendees that the US will continue to support scholarships by investing $48 million more over the coming eight years, for deserving students to attend the American University in Beirut and LAU as part of the program.

LAU’s Assistant Vice President for Outreach and Civic Engagement Elie Samia, who has also been the USP program director since its inception at LAU, said that he is “humbled to see how, since 2011, USP is moving from good to great.” Declaring that the university is “honoring what it had promised to USAID,” he presented detailed student achievements and illustrated them with both testimonials and figures. For one example, 82 percent of USP students will graduate with a GPA of 3.0 and above.

Attendees celebrated the winners of the USP Excellence Award: in first place Antonio Bakhos, in second place Maryse Abi Haidar and in third place Sarah Al Bouery.

The event also shed light on particular success stories from a handful of distinguished students who spoke about their community service projects in the Chouf, Sidon and Baysour.