University Education and Beyond

Bridge graduates: 2019 year brought the total of ULYP’s Bridge alumni to over 500. These young men and women have graduated from different universities in Lebanon and abroad; some are pursuing higher degrees and others are either already employed or on their way to employment.

Bridge’s current students: The number of students in universities pursuing undergraduate degrees in a plethora of majors total 382. These scholarships are made possible by different private, organizational and governmental donations. In addition, 25 ULYP students have been granted USAID scholarships that have been offered for the first time ever to non-Lebanese at AUB and LAU under the Refugee Scholarship Support Program. Four other ULYP students have been granted scholarships at AUB by the Mastercard Foundation, and eight have received Al Ghurair STEM Scholars Program scholarships.

Special Diploma: 43 students are currently pursuing specialized short-term diplomas that build on their Bachelor’s degrees to increase chances of employability. These diplomas are supported by the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund (AGFE).

AUST:  86 students are now in their second year of tertiary education at the American University of Science and Technology studying different majors in one of the university’s branches around Lebanon. This is made possible by cost sharing from the university as well as AGFE. The Asfari Foundation has joined forces and provides additional support to some of these students to alleviate the risk of dropping out due to extreme financial demands.

Bridge Star: Noura

Noura is a participant in our Bridge Program and has recently passed her Foundation year at the University of Malta with flying colors. In her own words:

“For 18 years, I have been living in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon called “Ein AlHelweh”. This camp -with all its flaws- empowered me to see what is beyond the walls surrounding it and to break barriers between countries to finally settle in Europe as I have fortunately gotten a scholarship to study at the University of Malta. Honestly, I have always wanted to leave Lebanon since refugees’ future there is uncertain and depends on the political climate in the region with all its turmoil and danger; however, I always had in mind the idea of coming back and contributing for change. For that, I chose to study Social Work abroad since this field of studies gets you closer to marginalized groups and since I am [in] one of these groups, I may be able to offer more help.Europe has offered me diversity, openness, knowledge, and freedom. Personally, this benefited me because I met many nice, hardworking, knowledgeable, and open-minded people and academically, it gave me the power to explore and learn by myself. The hardships always pushed me forward, never backwards because I believe that education, especially for refugees, is the first and last resort in contributing to the prosperity of a country and one’s success.”

Noura has already made noticeable change. Director Stefania Agius Fabri of the International Office at the University of Malta stated, “Apart from her excellent academic record Noura has really distinguished herself for her participation, her insight, her thirst to learn and willingness to contribute. She has in fact engaged in a volunteering experience in Malta for part of the summer. We look forward to having Noura joining the Degree programme in October and am very thankful that we have been blessed with an excellent student who is truly deserving of this scholarship.”

Celebrating Education

 On July 25, ULYP held its fifth Celebration of Education for our Bridge graduates. ULYP class of 2019 broke the record with 32% of the 94 graduates completing degrees with distinction, high distinction or top of faculties.

With standing ovation, Ricardo Karam was this year’s keynote speaker whose words were inspirational to the students and audience at large: “Today, I want to talk to you about what time gives you in return: I want to talk to you about stories. Stories: the most precious things we carry with us – not just as individuals, but as communities, nations, and cultures…As I set out to tell my own story, I’ve realized that heroes and heroines didn’t always work under the spotlight. Many of them, in fact, work in silence. You are the heroes and heroines, you must tell your stories…The Arab world is thirsty for role models. We need people to make us believe that a brighter future awaits us. That we are still allowed to dream. As you build your own futures, you have the opportunity to build, along with them, the futures of every country.”

Two graduates then took the stage and addressed the audience of donors, board members and friends of ULYP with powerful and touching words:

“I believed in the mission that educating young women from the Middle East is the key to making it a better place to live. It was weird for people to accept that idea that a girl is traveling by herself to study abroad, and for what, trying to pursue a degree in the medical field and destroy her social life in the process… I wanted to change people’s perspective towards girls and women like me. Education has no limits! My gender or some oblivious social constraints should not be a cause for stopping me from fulfilling my dream.” Wardah Al Akrah, Manhattanville College BS Biology & BA Psychology (minor), Class of 2019

“I would like to congratulate my fellow graduates and friends on their success and ULYP on their continuous achievements… As a Palestinian girl, I was aware enough of the importance of education, and getting a degree was my purpose in life… the power of knowledge is the only way to survive and reach anywhere in this life, especially as a refugee… My motto in life is to never give up, believe in yourself, challenge yourself, and at the same time own your weaknesses as long as you are working on making weakness your strength. Finally, wherever the flow takes you, you will be fine as long as you have the will to reach.” Rama Al Hindi, LAU BBA Business Administration, Class of 2019

Thank you to our wonderful donors and to everyone who attended this ceremony. Without your contributions and support, this success could not be possible.

 

Bridging the Gap

BRIDGE 1

For the Academic Year, 2018-2019, ULYP welcomed 114 students to the Bridge program, joining the returning scholars at universities in Lebanon, North Cyprus, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Spain and, for the first time; Malta! Thanks to all our donors and partners, ULYP’s new cohort is now well established in their universities and have just completed their first semester.

Of course, the Bridge Program is not only about scholarships. Diala Diab, who studies Medicine at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, and Maysam Azzam, BA Media and Communications, AUB Class of 2018, both represented ULYP at the Investing in the Future Conference: Youth – Challenges and Development Opportunities (IIF Mena 2018); a regional conference hosted by the Big Heart Foundation, one of our major donors in Sharjah, UAE. Diala and Maysa participated in the session entitled “Engaging Youth in Regional Development” aiming to empower all young people with a voice in the making of decisions that affect them.

ULYPAA and a BRIDGE Star

bridge-star.jpg

The ULYP Alumni Association (ULYPAA) annual subscription fees have been collected and were matched with a scholar. Abdulrahman Al-Mousa is now enrolled at Texas A&M University, Qatar. He started in the Fall 2018 semester and has now completed his first semester with an outstanding GPA of 4.00! This very important milestone validates ULYP’s mission and vision to continue granting youth equal access to opportunities and education. It also highlights the generosity of the ULYP Alumni; giving back to others the same chances they were offered, in one form or another, and helping us continue our work to support a larger number of students!

Bridging the Gap

Bridge Graduation

This has been the busiest ever summer for the Bridge Program; we celebrated the graduation of 84 students, matched over 110 new students starting university with scholarships, and engaged 160 potential scholarship students in our University Preparation Course (UPC). We’re growing at a pace we couldn’t have ever imagined.

DukeEngage
For the 6th year running, eight volunteers from Duke University participated in the DukeEngage Program in Lebanon. The volunteers provided additional SAT preparation to our UPC students.
SAT preparation is just one part of our students’ lengthy university application process. Over the next two years, these students will be given college guidance and counselling, before being matched with donors and funding for Universities in Lebanon and across the world.
A special thanks to Dr. Maha Al Houssami and Julia Daley from the DukeEngage Programs and the wonderful Duke students for their invaluable contribution to UPC 2018.

Scholarships
Over 110 students, the intake of 2018 – 2019, just crossed the bridge into their universities in Lebanon and abroad. This could not have been possible without the generous support of our donors, staff, and volunteers.
Applications for the Bridge Program will open in October 2018 and is open to all. Here’s to another year of students having access to higher education!

Graduation
84 students graduated from the Bridge program this year. Our bright Bridge Program participants celebrated their graduation from university, bringing the number of Bridge alumni to 411.
The ceremony was magical, tearful, sentimental and inspiring. The president of Lebanese American University, Dr. Joseph Jabbra, delivered a moving keynote speech filled with words of encouragement and enlightenment.

Bridge Student Success Story: Darin Yassine

Darin Certificate

On the 8th of August, our founder Melek Nimer and the ULYP Bridge team received a letter from one of their students, Darin Yassine.
“I am writing with so much respect, gratitude, and warmth in my heart. I am writing to whole-heartedly thank you for being such a great person and taking such a huge part in my short story of success.”
After completing her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, Darin was determined to pursue the Doctor of Pharmacy degree but needed financial support for the tuition fees. Darin searched high and low for someone to fund her dream. Her drive and hard work led her to the president of LAU, Dr. Joseph Jabbra, who referred her to Mrs. Nimer and ULYP.

“I can say, genuinely, that my determination, thrive, and limitless hope were born at first when I met Mrs. Nimer.”

Through Dr Jabbra, the ULYP family and other kind-hearted donors, Darin received enough money to attend the University course she had hoped for. Thanks to Darin’s extraordinary commitment, and the support she received, she she was able to enrol on the Doctor of Pharmacy program at the Lebanese American University. In July 2018, Darin graduated from LAU with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree with distinction.

On top of all this, on March 2018, Darin was accepted for a 12-month international post-graduate Year-1 residency at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, among 30 other applicants. She is therefore able to practice as a clinical pharmacist while she continues her educational growth.

“As I am starting a new chapter in my life, I thank God from the bottom of my heart that each of those exceptional individuals crossed my path, and gifted me an eternal hope in tomorrow-which I will hold in my heart forever. At this moment in time, I am counting my blessings. I am also feeling immense excitement for the next challenge.”

This was such a wonderful letter to receive; a perfect example of the positive attitude, exceptional intellect, hard work and inspiring optimism shown by the youth in Lebanon; and a reminder of how important ULYP’s work can be.

Bridge Stars!

We are proud of our students, Mahmoud Al Housary and Nour Rmied, who attended their first White Coat Ceremony after completing the first year of Medicine at Yeditepe University!

Mahmoud and Nour received scholarships to study Medicine at Yeditepe in Istanbul.  They are pursuing their dreams after their unrelenting efforts in high school and commitment to education. Their hard work and success is definitely proof that anything is possible!

Increasing Opportunities for Higher Education

The spring brought new growth for the Bridge Program. 445 currently enrolled students began their spring semester, continuing to serve as inspiration to future university applicants in their communities. Another 255 new scholarship applicants have knocked on our doors, full of hope and ready to take advantage of the opportunity that Bridge provides to pursue higher education. The Bridge team has been providing academic counseling, application support and scholarship matching in order to help these students, who come from refugee and underprivileged backgrounds, remember that everyone has the right to education.

As the number of Bridge students grows, so do the opportunities available to them. ULYP was invited to attend the Education City Regional Counselors Program (ECRCP) organized by the Qatar Foundation in January. ECRP gave the Bridge Team the chance to connect with university admissions offices, foundations and other counseling professionals in order to better support future applicants and Bridge students currently attending university in Qatar.

Bridge Star – Awad, Alumni

Our Bridge graduates continue to amaze us with their talent, drive and passion. After graduating from Lebanese American University (LAU) in 2016 with a BA in Communication Arts, Awad, recipient of a scholarship from the Bridge Program, directed and produced “Ayoube”, a play that was shown at Metro Al Madina in Hamra, Beirut over the summer.

The play highlights the struggles of Palestinian women in refugee camps in Lebanon, inspired by the stories Awad was told by his grandmother, Ayoube. The play tells the story of her struggle to survive and raise her children without compromising their education and well-being.

The play was well received and was such a success that the team was requested to perform twelve more shows in Metro Al Madina and one in Saida. There is no doubt that Awad’s creativity and vision will fuel many more minds and hearts! We can’t wait to see what Awad’s future holds.

Another Journey Begins

Bags unpacked, new friendships formed and exams around the corner – 131 Bridge students are nearing the end of their first semester at 31 universities in 10 countries. This new phase in their journey as Bridge students is off to a good start and ULYP is proud of them.

This journey is just about to begin for the next cohort of Bridge University Scholarship Program students. The ULYP team has been visiting schools and university fairs across Lebanon to reach out to qualified and deserving students. We have met driven and passionate students aspiring to continue their education. ULYP can’t wait for them to apply, begin their Bridge journey and grow and develop into the students and people they should have the opportunity to be.