MEET THE DKSSF CLASS OF 2020!

We're excited to welcome 17 new DKSSF scholars from Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia. They began their undergraduate studies this fall on scholarships earned with the support of the DKSSF from the Universities of Miami, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania, and Rochester; NYU Abu Dhabi; Bucknell, Colgate, Drexel, Harvard, and Rice Universities; and Berea, Carleton, Grinnell, Kenyon, Rhodes, and Smith Colleges. Congratulations to all!
The DKSSF class of 2020, individual pictures

EGYPT 

Mohamed Abead distinguished himself academically while at the Nermien Ismail British School. His interest in computer science and programming from an early age led him to win the bronze medal in the Egyptian Olympiad in Informatics (EOI) in 2017 and 2018, as well as the Outstanding Cambridge Learner Award in 2018 for earning the highest score worldwide on the IGCSE Computer Science subject exam. Inspired to use programming to create innovative solutions that enhance quality of life, he co-founded Paraztec, an award-winning startup that aims to improve access to computers and the Internet for people with mobility disabilities. He additionally served as the vice president of the Competitive College Club at AMIDEAST/Cairo. Mohamed is excited to be attending Rice University, where he is pursuing his passion for computer science and entrepreneurship.

Originally from Giza, Beshoy Atef graduated from STEM High School for Boys in the city of 6th of October. He lists a number of “firsts” among his activities, from starting the school's first magazine, its first conversation club, and its first student-led website renovation to serving on the board that started the first Egyptian STEM Schools Model UN. Using his teambuilding skills, Beshoy also initiated the first mentorship program to help freshmen adjust to the school system. As a result of his leadership, he was selected to represent STEM schools during on- and off-campus visits and at an Arab League discussion of the expansion of STEM schools across the MENA region. In addition to being a leader and self-starter, Beshoy is passionate about creative writing and was one of the Cambridge Immerse Education winners in 2019. He is currently a freshman at Kenyon College, where he is studying psychology and English.

Seif Battah graduated from STEM High School for Boys in the city of 6th of October. Throughout his high school career, he demonstrated his leadership potential through various extracurricular STEM-related activities. He led the science committee in his school’s student union and headed up the media department for the 2020 TEDxYouth@6th of October STEM event. Driven by his passion for science, Seif was selected by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to attend the EducationUSA Academy summer program at St. Cloud State University, where he conducted research on laser-based solutions for space debris catastrophes. He was also a national winner at the NASA Space Apps Cairo 2019 Competition and won a special award to attend the Vested Summit in Sahl Hashesh on the Red Sea. Seif is now studying physics and optics at the University of Rochester.

Mariam Hesham attended the competitive Maadi STEM School for Girls, where she focused on mechanical engineering and renewable energy. To develop these interests further, she attended the BP/AFS STEM Academy at Elmhurst University, a four-week program designed to help top-performing students excel in STEM fields, and interned at the Egypt Nanotechnology Center at Cairo University, where she participated in research projects to increase the efficiency of solar cells — research that later won awards in multiple competitions. Alongside her passions for engineering and renewable energy, Mariam has been active in her community, volunteering for five years with Life Makers, an Egyptian community-based organization, in support of its fundraising and charitable activities. Mariam is at Bucknell University, majoring in mechanical engineering and aspiring to join the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program.

Yusuf Mahmoud Ismail attended Alexandria STEM School, where he was able to pursue his passion for the sciences. In his junior year, he won first place in his school’s physics competition, leading to his participation in the Egyptian Physics Olympiad, where he ranked among the top 10 participants from Egypt. Fascinated by astronomy, Yusuf joined the STEM Astronomy Club as a mentor and public lecturer. He also translated science articles from English to Arabic for the “NASA in Arabic” initiative, helping Arabic speakers access top science articles. Seeking a quality education in the United States, Yusuf joined the EducationUSA Competitive College Club at AMIDEAST/Alexandria, where he continues to serve as a mentor. Currently a freshman at Carleton College, studying physics and astronomy, he is on his way to realizing his goal of becoming a professor.

Youssef Khashana graduated from Dakahlia STEM School, where he focused on biology and neuroscience and was active in a variety of student activities on and off campus. He was the president of the biology club and participated in the EducationUSA Academy summer program at Johns Hopkins University, through which he carried out research on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That same year, he was admitted to the Yale Young Global Scholars program, providing him an opportunity to conduct additional research in skin tissue engineering. A team player at heart, Youssef stands ready to share his passion and knowledge with his peers. While in high school, he launched a local chapter of the International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA). At Rhodes College, Youssef is excited to be further developing his passion for neuroscience.

Wael Mohamed graduated from STEM High School for Boys in the city of 6th of October. Throughout high school, he consistently sought opportunities to challenge himself and grow. To develop his passion for computer science, he co-founded Egypt’s first high school hack club and built and managed the website for TEDxYouth@6th of October STEM. Wael additionally served as a capstone assistant, guiding freshmen students at the start of their journey at the STEM school, and volunteered to rebuild the school website. He was also a national winner at the 2019 NASA Space Apps Cairo competition and won a special award to attend the Vested Summit in Sahl Hashesh. The first in his family to attend university, he is excited to be studying computer science at Colgate University.

LEBANON 

Originally from Aramoun, a village in the district of Aley, Mawadda Abdan moved to Beirut with her family as a teenager to avoid the stress of daily commutes. There, she adjusted quickly, even when she had to change her basketball and Taekwondo clubs. She attended the private Hariri High School III, ranking as the class valedictorian every year since first grade — making her eligible for a full merit scholarship beginning in seventh grade. With two other children to educate, this helped relieve stress on her family’s finances. “Even through financial difficulty, I watched as my parents made sacrifices to help me and my two younger siblings attend private school. They valued good-quality education above all else,” she relates. She is excited to be studying at NYU Abu Dhabi, where she plans to major in “premed physics,” drawn to the field “because I wish to be able to add to humanity through research and new creations and discoveries.”

Nicholas El Hajj comes from Jounieh, where he attended Antonine Sisters School, Ghazir. In addition to his strong academics, he volunteered at the Jounieh Red Cross center, the Jounieh Migrant Community Center (MCC), and the Jounieh Anti-Racism Movement. He also participated in the boy scouts and Model UN and Model Arab League programs. Nicholas wanted to study in the United States because “it has some of the best educational institutions that work on building you as a person, rather than treating you as a client.” He is pleased to be majoring in biology at Grinnell College, having selected a liberal arts college experience for “a chance to meet new people, be independent and grow in incomparable ways.”

Elie El-Kefraoui lived his entire life in Mansourieh and attended school at Saints Coeurs Ain Najm starting in first grade and with the support of a scholarship in 2019. Elie’s interests range from track and field to public affairs. After qualifying for an international Model UN conference, where he won two awards, he came back to Lebanon and trained a wide range of students in public speaking and conflict resolution. Elie also enjoys learning new things on his own, such as history, economics, and even programming. Now at the University of Pennsylvania, he says, “I want to pursue a degree in economics, which greatly interests me because I wish to impact my community which currently faces economic hardships. Notably, the best way to do that is by attending top colleges, most of which are located in the United States.”

Rim Khayata comes from Beirut, where she attended Saint Mary’s Orthodox College through tenth grade. Through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, she spent her junior year in a public school in Kenai, Alaska, an experience that motivated her to decide to attend Zahia Kaddoura Official School upon her return home in order to experience public schools in Lebanon. A fan of bike riding, she is proud of having convinced her parents to allow her to commute to school. She also values community service, enjoying opportunities to volunteer at the Lebanese Red Cross through the YES alumni network during her free time. Rim is excited to be attending the University of Miami. Describing herself as a creative person who loves art, she plans to major in architecture. “I believe that providing a safe shelter is one of the main human rights that all people deserve to attain," she says.

Mark Paul El Moujabber set his sights on attending university in the United States after his father passed away in 2014. He participated and excelled in many debate and Model UN events, participated in science fairs and science summer camps, and spent countless hours volunteering with the boy scouts and the Lebanese Red Cross Youth Sector. “My hard work throughout the years, along with the constant assistance and dedication of AMIDEAST through the DKSSF program, allowed me to get to where I am today, one of my top choice universities,” says Paul, a freshman at Drexel University majoring in civil engineering. He notes that Drexel’s combined five-year BS/MS program will allow him to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering and a year and a half of work experience in the field. “This program will allow me to gain experience and knowledge that I hope to be able to implement in Lebanon one day,” he says. “Our country needs us now more than ever, and I'm certain that the track that I'm on will allow me to come back one day and help our country."

Nour Mrad comes from Kfour, a village in Mount Lebanon, where she attended Antonine Sisters School, Ghazir. In addition to a strong academic record, she engaged in numerous activities, notably speech and debate. She participated in Model UN, the World Scholars Cup, and an international debate competition in which she ranked 30th out of 3,250 participants. She also took advantage of opportunities to volunteer and completed a civil defense marine course. Nour is majoring in biology at NYU Abu Dhabi, where she is exploring a variety of subjects through its liberal arts curriculum. “Through the liberal system of U.S. colleges, I hope to define myself as a global citizen who is ready to make a change through the knowledge I gain," she says.

Nour’s twin sister Sarah Mrad considers herself to be “an avid public speaker,” a skill demonstrated when she won the first place “Secretary General” award at Model UN and ranked first in debate and second overall at the World Scholars Cup (WSC) in Dubai and 32nd among 5,000 debaters at a competition in China. She is also an avid swimmer, hiker, and camper and is certified in marine rescue. Passionate about community service, she joined an environment club and volunteered at nursing homes and for marathons, among other volunteer activities. As she begins her studies at Harvard University, she is weighing her options for a double major, noting, “I am highly drawn to the idea of taking two largely separate fields of study and combining them to tackle the problems of this fast-paced and increasingly inter-related world."

Jamal Rajeh comes from Baakline, Mount Lebanon, and attended Shouf National College on a scholarship provided by the school — financial help that was especially important given the ongoing economic crisis in Lebanon, which made it impossible for his mother to find stable employment and his father unable to completely provide for his family despite balancing two jobs. Jamal was awarded a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) scholarship to spend his junior year of high school in Oregon. He enjoys a variety of extracurricular activities including participating in projects with minority groups, attending workshops to raise awareness of persons with disabilities, and “countless hours of community service.” Jamal is excited to pursue his passions for psychology and dance at Berea College. “I would love to pursue a degree in dance therapy as both art and mental health have played a huge role in shaping my identity, so I would love to guide others through the process,” he says.

While a student at Sagesse High School, George Tabet learned about U.S. study opportunities through AMIDEAST and EducationUSA. He credits his parents for emphasizing the importance of education and encouraging him to become independent. He served as the secretary general of his Model UN school conference and as a volunteer for the nonprofit Order of Malta’s one-week camps for youth with significant mental and physical disabilities. He was also an active member of his school community, serving on the student council for four consecutive years and cofounding “Project Green,” a school effort to upcycle, recycle, and reduce waste. He is excited to be studying at the University of Notre Dame, where he is majoring in economics with a concentration on corporate finance. He hopes to attend law school after he completes his bachelor’s degree.

TUNISIA

Cyrine Ben Ayad graduated with honors from one of the most competitive high schools in Tunisia, the Pioneer School of Ariana. She was also highly involved in various extracurricular activities. In addition to serving as the vice-president and co-founder of the youth-led organization Key Club Ariana and as an advertising manager for a local high school radio station, she was a member of a community service organization, Interact Big South Tunis, and the Competitive College Club at AMIDEAST/Tunis. To give back to her community, she volunteered online with the United Nations, working virtually with AGRIPO in support of the UN sustainable development goals. Passionate about public speaking, she participated in numerous debate clubs and competitions in her high school and elsewhere, such the MENA Model UN. Now a freshman at Smith College, Cyrine plans to major in engineering.