USAID Graduating Scholars Honored

The university and the US Agency for International Development recognize and celebrate a new cohort of graduating scholars.

By Raissa Batakji

Since 2010, the USAID-funded programs benefited 871 scholars, among whom 558 graduated in the previous years.

Together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), LAU hosted an Iftar reception on April 12 to celebrate the projected graduation of 70 Higher Education Scholarship (HES) recipients, who had completed their undergraduate degrees with the full support of the American agency.

In his welcoming remarks, LAU President Michel E. Mawad spoke about the region’s need for “hope to dispel fear, for engagement to drive away apathy, for commitment to overcome carelessness and for integrity to wipe away corruption.” 


To that end, Dr. Mawad pointed to the instrumental role of all USAID scholarships in providing for the youth in the Middle East. “This new generation will measure up to the monumental challenges thanks to a great combination of knowledge dispatched through quality education and values developed by example and exposure,” he said.

USAID/Lebanon Mission Director Mary Eileen Devitt congratulated the USAID graduates: “I am filled with pride and thrilled to announce that the graduating class of 2023 includes eighty USAID scholars who have all completed their journey here at LAU. I commend each of you for your hard work and perseverance and for your tireless efforts to engage in civic initiatives. Whether it was tutoring struggling students or providing food boxes to families in need during the economic crisis, you learned the true meaning and value of giving back to your communities.” 


Launched in 2010, the USAID-funded programs provide full undergraduate scholarships for academically meritorious yet financially disadvantaged students from Lebanon’s 26 districts. The programs benefited 871 scholars, among whom 558 graduated in the previous years. Around 86 percent of the scholars found jobs after graduation, which is a milestone for both USAID and LAU. 

HES scholar and winner of the Excellence Award Tony Wehbe expressed his deep appreciation of those who supported him, and the principles he learned during his journey. “Winning this award is not just a recognition of my achievements but also a celebration of the sacrifices, hard work and support of those who have helped me along the way.”


Reflecting on the challenges he faced at university, Wehbe said that perseverance and staying true to one’s goals and aspirations are of utmost importance. “Today, I stand before you as someone who is confident, driven and committed to excellence, who no longer sees limitations but only possibilities,” he added.

The event celebrated the scholars’ academic, professional and civic accomplishments, given that they are required to engage in community service and volunteer opportunities, attend career-development workshops and complete internships to help them kickstart their next chapters. Three students’ hard work in that regard was recognized: Wehbe received the first-place Excellence Award, while Christopher Saab and Marc Abi Aad came in second and third places respectively.

Nursing student Jinine El Houjairye drew a link between her extra-curricular experiences at medical, environmental, humanitarian and educational organizations and her academic work. “Volunteering has shown me that there are limitless forms of giving and that giving is a demonstration of love and care,” she said, adding that she had learned lessons in compassion empathy, leadership, teamwork and dedication which have “not only benefitted me personally but also supported my academic pursuit as a nurse.”

For business management student Mariam Zeineddine, supporting others and eliminating social disparities became a calling. She expounded on her volunteering experiences, including her own community service project, which empowers women through entrepreneurship.