Scholarship Students Ready to Give Back to the Community

The 10th cohort of Higher Education Scholarship awardees graduate at a special ceremony honoring their excellence, dedication and hard work.

By Sara Makarem

The 72 Higher Education Scholarship graduates mark the 10th cohort of the USAID-funded program.
Ahmad Mneimneh, first place winner in the Excellence Awards and the cohort’s valedictorian.
Yasin Jazieh, second place winner in the Excellence Awards.
Maria Naim, third place winner in the Excellence Awards.

LAU’s commitment to inclusion and diversity was once again demonstrated this year with the addition of 72 Higher Education Scholarship (HES) graduates to its growing alumni network in a ceremony that took place at the Byblos campus on June 6, 2024. The students completed their undergraduate degrees with the full support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The event was attended by USAID’s incoming Mission Director for Lebanon Judie Southfield; US embassy representatives; LAU President Michel E. Mawad; Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management Elise Salem; Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations Abdallah Al Khal; deans, faculty, staff and parents.

The HES program, made possible with the generous support of USAID, has enabled more than 900 excelling undergraduates to pursue their higher education at LAU since 2010.

President Mawad expressed his appreciation for the “generosity of the American people and the US government, and their commitment to a better future for the youth of this part of the world.” He congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to “find ways to give back to your community and generate multiplier effects that will be of immense benefit to society,” adding “You are the scholars of today but the leaders of tomorrow.”

Commending the leadership behind the program, Southfield highlighted LAU’s efforts to foster excellence in higher education “with steadfast mentorship” for the graduates.

She took the opportunity to announce a $17.1 million increase in USAID’s support for the university’s financial aid, which is aimed at helping students adversely affected by worsening economic conditions and offering full scholarships to financially disadvantaged high-school students.

Dr. Salem thanked USAID and the American embassy for choosing LAU as their partner and for their commitment to “the transformative scholarships.”

“Administering this USAID scholarship program over a dozen years has raised the standards of our LAU, both in terms of academic delivery and student services,” she said.

Welcoming the cohort to LAU’s alumni chapters, Al Khal extolled the association’s educational, cultural and networking benefits and urged the fresh graduates to be active members of its supportive community. One of the 44 alumni chapters, he noted, had been established especially for HES alumni who enjoy a special affinity.

President of the HES Alumni Chapter Ali Tourba (BS ’18), in turn, shared his success stories as an HES graduate and the numerous opportunities that became available to him.

This year’s Excellence Award, which recognizes scholars who have positively impacted the community while maintaining high academic standards, was granted to three graduates from the Alice Ramez Chagoury School of Nursing. Ahmad Mneimneh received first place, Yasine Jazieh took second, and Maria Naim earned third, showcasing their dedication to pursuing careers in service to others.

In his speech, Mneimneh referred to his experience as an HES scholar as life-changing. It gave him “a new perspective and safe environment to learn and grow,” he said.

The scholarship, he added, “embodies the essence of never stopping to dream, believe, or strive to improve oneself and the community.”