In March, ULYP received the great news from Ockenden International that its Change program was being recognized with the 2019 Ockenden International Prize. ULYP submitted its first Change program, developed in partnership with the Asfari Foundation in 2018. A judging panel of six experts reviewed our submission and selected ULYP’s program that provides a path to higher education, allowing young people the potential to develop in extreme circumstances. According to Ockenden, “The judges said it won for its self-evident success rate educating isolated Palestinian and Syrian refugees, which will create a lasting legacy. The judges also felt that Change provides life skills, is transformative and should be a model project that can and should inspire other organisations with similar objectives.”
Ockenden International was founded in 1951 and is one of the oldest foundations to support refugees and organizations who promote the dignity and self-reliance of refugees.
The recent months have been filled with awards and recognition of ULYP’s practice. These act as significant validation that ULYP’s mission statement and methodology are well intertwined and that our interventions are valuable, effective and appropriate.
“Receiving the TAKREEM Special Distinction Award… means you agree that doors need to be open to all underserved and that respect has to be expanded to the marginalized, but most importantly that everyone should have the right to education” said Melek El Nimer, ULYP Founder, on receiving the award this November.
Melek El Nimer received three special awards and distinctions this fall for her humanitarian work and impact at ULYP. In the name of ULYP, Melek was awarded the Outstanding Humanitarian Award by the Arab American Association, the Outstanding Efforts “For Humanity” Award at the 8th Bosphorus Summit and the TAKREEM Special Distinction Award for continuing to play “a key role in shaping a better perception of Arabs worldwide and in inspiring present and future generations.”
ULYP celebrated the achievement of 81 students who pursued higher education and succeeded in graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from universities in Lebanon and abroad, all with the support of ULYP’s scholarship program. ULYP’s class of 2015, together with many friends, donors, supporters and partners, gathered on our campus in Dibbiyeh to celebrate education and remind everyone that education is the ultimate tool for social change.
The event included two inspiring speeches from two amazing guest speakers; Dr. Mohamad Zakaria and Dr. Yassine Daoud. Dr. Zakaria is one of the top 10 most educated men in the world, and Dr. Yassine Daoud is a world-renowned specialist in ophthalmology. Both men spent their formative years in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and attended UNRWA schools, but managed to achieve excellence through education, determination, and having people who believed in them. In their addresses, they both encouraged the graduates to continue their education, pursue their dreams and give back to their communities. The event also included a musical section presented by the children from our Artists and Actors program, who sang traditional Arabic songs- Muwashahat- to the audience. These 8-11 year-old children learned the songs on a weekend retreat through ULYP’s CIRCLE project, in partnership with UNICEF. We hope they will one day become the future ULYP graduates. The whole event was broadcast live on ULYP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and guests and students were encouraged to post photos and quotes using #ulypgrads.
As well as all receiving certificates of achievement, some students were recognized with additional awards in five categories during the event. These were:
The Beirut Marathon Association Helping People RUN award.
The Giving back to the Community Award
The Following One’s Passion Award
The Mohammad Zuhdi Nashashibi Science and Technology Award
The Abuhaydar Honor Society Award
Finally, two ULYP graduates addressed their peers and spoke about their university transition and the road that lies ahead. We felt very proud as the graduates marched onto stage wearing blue stoles to collect their certificates of achievement. Mabrouk to all, we look forward to following your progress as you embark on your futures!
One of our Bridge students Salwan Abou Salem was recently awarded a scholarship from Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), and offered a place on a big research project. We asked Salwan for her thoughts on receiving this recognition of her hard work, as well as her plans and dreams for the future:
I was originally introduced to ULYP when graduating from Al Qalaa Secondary School in Saida and I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering in Texas A&M University in Qatar. Since coming to Qatar, I have been committed to doing my best, getting on the right track and making the Palestinians proud. I applied for the annual HBKU Merit Scholarship because I had attained the required GPA, and now it will allow me to continue my studies.
As for my research involvements, my physics TA approached me and asked whether I would like to contribute to a research project with Dr. Othmane Bouhali. The project is called “Uniformity studies in Gas Electron Multiplier based detectors”. This UREP proposal is funded by QNRF (Qatar National Research Fund) and will continue for a whole year, starting in Fall 2013.
I feel so excited and happy about my future; excited to begin the research and to have new experiences, and happy to accept the challenge and do my utmost to achieve my dream of becoming a mechanical engineer. Now I see my dream coming true. Qatar was the right place for me to go and do what I really wanted to do. My father used to say to me “Go where you think you can achieve something”. I hope to one day invent something that will help people all over the world, but eventually my wish is to join the Stars of Science Program.
I would like to thank my family and friends for being there for me at all times. I would also like to thank Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned for her efforts to raise the education level in Qatar; without her I would not be in one of the top universities in the world. My thanks in the end go to Mrs. Melek El Nimer and Mr. Salim Karroum who introduced me to the key to everything; the key to life and the key to success. I wouldn’t be here without them.