Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021

On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, AMIDEAST is proud to celebrate the young women in our programs who are pushing aside gender stereotypes and succeeding in the vital work of building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation!

Meet some of these outstanding young women below and learn how they are advancing in their journeys to become leaders in their fields. They embody our commitment to making it possible for more young women to pursue a path in science by expanding their access to higher education through our Hope Fund and DKSSF programs, as well as the Fulbright Foreign Student Program and the HEI Public University Scholarships program, which we administer:

Tunisian Diana Kamal Scholarship Search Fund (DKSSF) scholar Cherine Ghazouani is double majoring in optical engineering and business management at University of Rochester in Rochester, New York — a city in which she first lived while studying abroad as a high school exchange student through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program! In addition to her busy academic schedule and volunteer work, Cherine found time to co-found Fourty-two, an innovative tutoring platform that promises to reshape education in the Mediterranean. She considers herself to be a “firm believer in global citizenship and an advocate for women rights and equal access to education.”

Newly-minted DKSSF alumna Rachel Chehayeb completed dual undergraduate degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University, thanks to support from the DKSSF! She was very active in her undergraduate community, serving as president of both the Yale Undergraduates for UNICEF and the Yale Global Medical Brigades and conducting significant research in biochemistry. She also volunteered at a local health clinic as an Arabic translator for patients! Today Rachel is a first-year medical student at the Yale School of Medicine, continuing to work toward her long-held dream of becoming a doctor.

Palestinian Hope Fund scholar and biology major Lora Assi is on the pre-med track at the University of Pennsylvania. She is planning to become a doctor and provide affordable health care to underserved communities in Palestine and around the world. In addition to her studies, she has been sharing her love of science and medicine with her adopted community. She teaches basic cardiology to high schoolers in Philadelphia twice a week through a group called Educational Pipeline and helped put together COVID-19 safety kits at a local health clinic for the Philadelphia community!

Gazan Hope Fund scholar — and former YES student — Nicole Alkhouri has been able to enjoy both the liberal arts and STEM activities as an undergraduate! At Smith College, she is studying neuroscience and chemistry and gaining valuable experience in her field. During her summer internship she co-authored a paper that was recently published in academic journal Pediatric Research. She works as a chemistry tutor, helping chemistry students with their homework and class materials. She also volunteers in the Emergency Department of Cooley Dickinson Hospital as well as serves as the treasurer of the Minority Association for Pre-Health Students (MAPS). Nicole is also a co-creator of student-run Fusayfa’, a Middle East journal produced by Smith College students, and the cultural chair for her college’s International Students Organization.

Farah Suboh, a Hope Fund scholar from Jordan, is studying biology at Coe College and playing a leadership role on campus! She is the founder and vice president of Coe College’s Muslim Student Association and serves as the social chair for the college’s International Club, the biggest club on campus. Farah is also an international student mentor, guiding new international students and answering their questions about studying in the United States. In addition to assisting students as they start their job searches at the campus career center, she has served as an executive functions coach, helping students maintain a planner, problem solve, and keep up class attendance.

Egyptian Fulbrighter Mai is learning valuable technical and theoretical skills to bring back to the scientific community in Egypt! Working on a fellowship in the Herrlick Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, she has had access to some of the top-rate technologies in scientific research and the opportunity to attend large scientific seminars, lectures, and networking events. Mai found her passion in cancer research and working to improve the clinical outcomes of chemotherapeutic agents. Read more about Mai and her scientific research here.
As the only MENA-region expert with a Ph.D. in her specialty – cleft lips and palates – Jordanian Fulbrighter Nour felt a responsibility to share the knowledge and skills she developed through her Fulbright experience at the University of Florida! She “paid-it-forward" by creating a training program to help regional practitioners build the skills they need to better assess and treat patients. After successfully using her program in Jordan and Morocco, she is now working on a new dream: to establish a regional craniofacial center to provide much-needed medical and rehabilitation services for children. Read how Fulbright has been supporting this latest goal here.
“I believe that science is magic, and I can say that this activity exceeded expectations and proved that when one believes in the potential of the future generation, the sky is the limit!” Fulbright alumna Hiba declares as she explains her desire to share her love of science with the next generation. Hiba, who completed her master’s degree in biology at Georgia Institute of Technology, created “The Little Scientist” program to provide training in methods of scientific thinking and lab techniques to children who, she hopes, will someday become future scientists able to change the world! Read more about her story here.

With the support of a scholarship from the U.S.-Egypt Higher Education Initiative, brilliant student Shaimaa was able to graduate second in her department from the University of Assiut’s Faculty of Engineering, Mechatronics Department! One of Shaimaa’s proudest achievements was studying abroad at Oregon State University, an opportunity made possible by her USAID-funded, AMIDEAST-administered scholarship. Through this experience, this formerly-shy student learned to take risks and push the boundaries of her comfort zone. Her hard work has paid off – she is now employed as a maintenance engineer and trainee at a water desalination plant in Hurghada, Egypt!

Nourhan, the youngest engineer at Egypt’s Elswedy Electric Foundation, graduated from Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering thanks to support from the U.S.-Egypt Higher Education Initiative’s Public University Scholarships Program! Her studies through this USAID-funded, AMIDEAST-administered program not only gave her the skills and knowledge she needed to succeed, it pushed her to grow personally. During her time at university, she was able to study in the United States, traveling to California to see the latest and most cutting-edge environmental projects. This gave her invaluable insights into skills that will be in demand in the future and reshaped how she thought about her future career.