Congratulating Our 2019 DKSSF Graduates

Nine seniors in AMIDEAST’s Diana Kamal Scholarship Search Fund (DKSSF) program graduated in spring 2019 with impressive academic and extracurricular accomplishments. Congratulations to these remarkable young men and women from Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia!

EGYPT

Abdulrahman Elfaramawy graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and magna cum laude honors. He excelled both in and out of the classroom, working as a teaching assistant for his professors and completing two summer internships. Abdulrahman has taken a position as a software engineer at Google. Before studying at the University of Minnesota, he said he used to only dream of making his country a better place. Now, he knows he can make the whole world a better place. “I would have never had the chance to study in the U.S. and get a better understanding of society and the vast world around me if it was not for AMIDEAST and DKSSF,” Abdulrahman added.

LEBANON

Ferial Berjawi graduated from Swarthmore College, where she created her own major — peace and conflict studies — and also majored in economics. During her time at Swarthmore, she was awarded the Lang Opportunity Scholarship, which she used to create the BetterFly Camp, an empowerment project for young refugee girls in Lebanon. Her passion to elevate human potential also drove her to create a UNICEF club at Swarthmore, and she worked with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the Philadelphia area. Immediately after graduation, she attended the Summer Peacebuilding Program at Middlebury College and will work for Treacy & Company, a consulting firm, while preparing to pursue a master’s degree in Public Policy and eventually a career in international development. Recalling her own start in an impoverished area of Beirut, Ferial notes, “I am humbled by [AMIDEAST’s] continuous financial, academic and moral support. It has helped me reach my potential and live a reality that seemed only possible in my deepest dreams… I can only hope that someday I will join you in supporting the transformation of those who come after me.”

Hadi El Kebbi graduated from Lehigh University with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a minor in music. Hadi is most proud of having had the opportunity to represent Lebanon in a positive light in the United States. Hadi, who will soon begin a master’s program in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, would like to give back to his country by creating sustainable energy plans for Beirut and improving the design of refugee camps. “AMIDEAST helped me recognize my own potential, by providing me with opportunities I am truly and forever grateful for. It doesn’t stop there, however. AMIDEAST also taught me what true benevolence means, by providing educational and financial opportunities for students like myself, who aren’t very financially fortunate. I owe my future to AMIDEAST, and I will someday give back the same and even better opportunities to other students.”

Mustapha Jechi graduated from University of Denver with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering and a minor in mathematics. A member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, Mustapha valued the opportunity his program gave him throughout to use the resources available on campus to learn and experiment in his field, including building robotic arms during his final year. He also says that his time spent studying in the United States has made him more ambitious, because he realized he could do more for his community than he previously imagined. Mustapha will remain in Denver to gain experience as a tech analyst at the consulting firm Deloitte. In the future, he plans to use the knowledge he gains to bring better technology solutions to Lebanon. Mustapha is grateful to AMIDEAST and the DKSSF, noting that “They taught me you should always have contingencies in place.”

Yara Maalouf graduated from MIT with a double major in chemical engineering and biology and a minor in political science. She took advantage of opportunities to explore her research interests in several fields, including internships in France and India and co-authoring two articles on diagnostics for malaria and tuberculosis. She will continue to pursue her research interests at Agenus, a company that focuses on cancer immunotherapies. Yara hopes in the future to start educational and outreach programs for students from across Lebanon who do not have access to many opportunities, allowing them to develop skills that are helpful for their careers and for Lebanon. Yara’s gratitude to AMIDEAST begins with her participation in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program during high school: “Without that, I would never have known about DKSSF. Without the guidance and support I received there, I wouldn’t have even dreamed of going to MIT.”

Mia Mansour graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and economics. After interning at McKinsey & Company this summer, she will return to Penn to pursue a master’s of science in engineering, specializing in robotics. While at Penn, she was a Penn World Scholar and won several academic awards. She was also a four-year member of the Penn Electric Racing Team, which builds and tests race cars in national competitions. Mia hopes to start her own Certified B Corporation that focuses on environmental sustainability for future generations and educational opportunities for underprivileged women. Thankful for these opportunities, she adds, “AMIDEAST opened my eyes to what lies outside of my small bubble and showed me that it’s possible to deviate from a traditional path.”

Moataz Noureddine graduated from Earlham College, where he studied biology and neuroscience. Even before studying in the United States, Moataz knew he wanted to dedicate his studies to cancer research. As a DKSSF scholar, he did so by engaging in research in Germany for three months and working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a summer. After graduation, he accepted a research assistantship at Harvard University’s Diana Farber Cancer Institute. Says Moataz, “I am forever grateful for the support and love of my advisors and mentors at [AMIDEAST]. I am looking forward to a future where I can give back to young dreamers just like the board did to me.”

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Jad Wehbi graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor of arts degree in linguistics and mathematics. While at Harvard, he worked as a counselor at Mission Hill Summer Program, providing academic, social, and personal support to low income youth in the Boston neighborhood of Mission Hill. He was accepted for a research fellowship at the University of Maryland.

TUNISIA

Wassim Gharbi graduated magna cum laude from Lafayette College with degrees in computer science and mathematics. During his undergraduate career, he worked on several research projects, participated in clubs and hack-a-thon competitions, and studied abroad in Madagascar. After interning twice for Google, he now plans to work full-time there as a software engineer. Wassim’s experience has made him conscious of the importance of education and giving back to the community. He already mentors students informally but would like to do more by working with high school counselors in Tunisia to teach them how to prepare students for college and exchange opportunities. Wassim is grateful to AMIDEAST and the DKSSF for many things, from seeing his potential to guiding him through the application process and providing the support that his financially disadvantaged family could not. “AMIDEAST and DKSSF have literally had the most impact possible on my life,” he says.