Meet Our Students

The Diana Kamal Scholarship Search Fund (DKSSF) makes the dream of study in the United States possible for highly qualified Arab students from underserved populations in the Middle East and North Africa.
DKSSF student Nour and a friend riding in a canoe on a lake

our current students



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.


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.


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.

incoming class of 2019


Ahmed Elsayed AbdelQader is an accomplished STEM enthusiast, an imaginative creative writer, and a caring community leader. He has volunteered as a computer science instructor for African refugees; led a TEDxyouth@EBIS stage to encourage youth to embrace computer science; established a creative writing blog that now has 3000+ followers from 70+ countries; and received the Runner-Up Prize in the Cambridge Immerse Creative Writing Competition. Not least, his team placed first in NASA’s SpaceAppsCairo in October 2018, second in the Cairo Intel Science and Engineering Fair and competed in the international fair in Phoenix, Arizona. Ahmed is excited to pursue his interests in both computer science and creative writing at Whitman College.

Mohammed Badra’s passion for computer science and automation led him to robotics and participation in multiple international competitions, including RoboCup (RCJ) and the World Robot Olympiad (WRO). Participating in the Soccer and Regular categories, his team placed first nationally and was the first Egyptian team to reach the semifinals in these competitions, giving him invaluable hands-on experience that has shaped his perspectives and career goals. A graduate of El Nasr Boys’ School in Alexandria, he is attending Minerva Schools at KGI, in California, majoring in computer science, with a minor in mathematics, and looking forward to participating in future competitions.
Rawan ElSafty's passion for international affairs grew during two years of travel abroad as a TechGirls ‘17 Alum and an Egyptian representative at UWC Belgium Short Course 2018. She was also the first Egyptian ambassador of Yale University’s Model United Nations (YMUN). Added to this is a keen interest in science that has also been evident. As the ambassador for Technovation Challenge, she empowered girls to start coding; and she achieved first place in the NASA Space Apps Cairo competition, qualifying her to participate in Space Camp. Rawan is also a promising athlete — she achieved gold and silver medals in judo and played for Egypt’s national team — and she has displayed impressive leadership qualities, serving as president of the EducationUSA Competitive College Club and starting the first LaunchX Club in Egypt. She plans to major in computer science and international affairs at Northwestern University.
Passionate about pure mathematics, Aly ElSheemy was an International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) student at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport. He participated in many robotics competitions, including ROV, RoboCup Soccer, and WRO Soccer, but his primary focus throughout high school was to develop a strong background in mathematics. He has conducted research in real analysis and submitted a research manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal that is currently under review. Aly is excited to attend the University of Chicago, where he intends to double major in math and computer science.
Mazen Kazem, a recent graduate of the 6th of October STEM High School for Boys, earned admissions to Johns Hopkins University, where he plans to major in neuroscience. Mazen is curious about many things, from biology and psychology to public speaking and debate. He was the only high school student in Egypt to be selected as a research intern at the National Research Centre, and his team won NASA’s Space Apps Cairo 2018 competition. His interest in neuroscience was evident in a TedX talk that he gave that looked at the baffling science of intelligence from social and biological perspectives. An outstanding student, Mazen was also selected to attend the EducationUSA summer academy program at Johns Hopkins University.
Adham Khalifa’s fascination with computer science and research has driven his desire since middle school to study in the United States in order to access the state-of-the-art facilities and unlimited resources that the U.S. higher education system has to offer. Already as an eighth grader in public school in Kafr El-Sheikh, Adham began to read about the U.S. college admissions process. He additionally stood out by becoming the first student at his school to win a prize at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair, as well as found a coding club and conduct research. Adham is looking forward to pursuing his undergraduate studies in computer science at Connecticut College.
Abdelhalim Mira comes from a lower-class family in the rural village of ElZawya ElHamra. Realizing the merits of a proper education and the value of intellectual curiosity and determination, he has ascended the ladder of knowledge one step at a time, eventually securing a scholarship to the STEM High School in 6th October. Moreover, cultivating a zeal for creative writing, he has written poems and short stories, keeps a personal journal, and is working on his first novel. He also served as a volunteer Arabic translator for the YouTube channel Sciencephile the AI. Abdelhalim intends to double major in economics and creative writing at Kenyon College in Ohio.
Saif Mostafa is an active young man with many interests, from computer science and mathematics to social media marketing. He helped to spread nonscholastic education through social media as a volunteer for many organizations, including Teens Club, Resala Charity, and Terre Des Hommes. He nurtured an interest in other cultures by hosting visitors from America and Turkey and living in a multicultural world during a summer program at Johns Hopkins University. Having experienced life on an American campus, he is looking forward to pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Stetson University, majoring in computer science and minoring in mathematics.
David Osama finished high school with a 3.8 GPA and achieved top scores on his college admission tests, including 1440 on his SAT 1 test and a 7.5 (total) IELTS score on his first try. He has served as a teacher’s assistant in mathematics and developed his technical, teamwork, and problem-solving skills during an internship in a car workshop in his city. He enjoys playing the drums in a band, is active in his church, and excels in soccer. Motivated by a dream to contribute to the development of Upper Egypt, he joined the Competitive College Club at Amideast, even though participation required him to make many six-hour train trips to Cairo. He is pursuing his undergraduate studies at Union University in Tennessee.
As a young boy, Mostafa Sabra found joy in reading National Geographic magazine. He has always been fascinated by the complexity of our universe and how human superiority is nothing compared to the dominance of nature. Driven by curiosity, he participated in the national physics Olympiads during his sophomore year of high school, ranking 16th overall despite his lack of experience and limited quantitative knowledge. His drive also led him to launch a research initiative aimed at solving the energy crisis in Egypt. Already it has developed a mechanical design that uses the Tesla turbine to generate energy from fluid wastes — an innovative solution that has won him numerous international awards. Mostafa plans to major in computer science at Connecticut College.
Seif Selim is a STEM school alumnus who has a keen interest in science and a passion for learning. In 2018, his science project was awarded first place at the Egypt International Science and Technology Fair. Seif also has a passion for filmmaking and looks forward to making a documentary about STEM schools one day as he believes they are not known or appreciated enough. As one of the top 10 finalists of the Brain Bee neuroscience competition, he is interested in the ways in which the human brain is wired and what happens when things go wrong. Seif is excited to pursue his aspirations at Sewanee: The University of the South.


Since childhood, Hikmat Abu Shala has been curious about the causes of diseases and what it will take to eradicate them. Three of his close relatives, including his mother, suffered from cancer. All three survived, giving Hikmat hope that there can be a cure for every disease and the motivation to play a major role in making the cures for rare diseases possible and accessible. He has already volunteered at the Red Cross, joined the Pure Heart Foundation, which helps infants afford heart surgeries, and became a student nurse at a hospital during the year he was a YES student in California — an exchange experience that enabled him to discover himself and set goals for his life. Hikmat will attend California State University/Chico, where he has chosen to major in molecular and cellular biology, laying the cornerstone of his career as a pharmaceutical scientist able to help those who suffer around him.
Sbidag Demerjian had never thought that studying in the United States would be possible before she was awarded a Kennedy-Lugar YES scholarship to spend her sophomore year of high school the state of Maine, living with a wonderful host family, learning about their culture, and becoming an active member in the community. She also attended a two-week summer study program by Yale University in China that gave her a glimpse of what studying different majors would be like and what kind of job opportunities are available. Sbidag, who hopes to study international law in graduate school, plans to major in international relations at Connecticut College.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Andrea Francis long dreamed of returning to the United States for college. While at Saint Joseph School in Lebanon, she turned to Amideast for support and guidance to achieve that dream. “The process was really hard, from choosing a major to finding the right college [and preparing] for my SAT, TOEFL, essays, and applications through the support of my friends and advisors,” she writes, adding that “All the work was worth it at the end because I was able to get into the perfect university” — the University of Denver — “where everything that I love was present: engineering, swimming, music, art, diversity, research….”
Charbel Haddad spent the first few years of his life in Roum, Jezzine, before moving with his family to Mazraat Yachouh, where he attended Saint Joseph School–Cornet Chehwan. Charbel excelled in all his classes, earning top grades and a spot on the honor roll every year, while also immersing himself in every extracurricular activity he could find in order to become a better-rounded and more cultivated individual. Charbel chose the University of Rochester because its open curriculum will provide him an interdisciplinary education like no other: he will be able to read nineteenth century literature while trying to solve the energy crisis. Since his interests are not limited to one field, this perfectly suits him.
Nadia Manasfi has been taking every opportunity thrown her way. Coming from a family of five with uncertain finances, her goal is to study psychology in the United States in order to receive the best education provided and to reduce the burden on her family. Her goal is to make everyone, including herself, proud. She is excited to attend Lafayette College, where she will major in psychology.
Originally from Beirut, Maroun Mezher grew up dreaming of studying abroad, specifically in the United States. His dream came true when he was awarded a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) scholarship to spend a year as an exchange student in the state of Washington — an experience that made him want to go back to the United States for college. Thanks to Amideast and its Competitive College Club program, he was able to achieve his dream again. They helped him discover Hamilton College, a school where he would be able to pursue his interests in economics and music. Maroun’s long-range goal is to complete his Ph.D. in economics and teach economics on the college level. A drummer since he was five years old, he is looking forward to the opportunity to immerse himself in composing and producing music.
Since discovering a passion for robotics several years ago, Amine Mrad has dedicated hours to building and programming robots — an effort that paid off at the Sumo Robot Competitions, where he was ranked three times by the 11th grade. Believing that the use of artificial intelligence will have a major positive impact on developing societies such as Lebanon, Amine has chosen to major in mechanical engineering with an emphasis on robotics. He was awarded a scholarship by Drexel University, allowing him to pursue his college studies in one of the world’s leaders in experiential learning.


Achraf Dhahbi attended Ariana Pioneer High School in the city of Ariana, where he also participated in various camps and competitions. However, he rarely left his hometown until he joined the Tunisian team at the International Championship of Mathematical and Logical Games in Paris. He later attended a competition in New York with his school’s physics team and received two awards. A curious and driven student, Achraf is interested in astrophysics and film. He is also an avid sports fan. Achraf is currently a freshman at Williams College, studying astrophysics, while also playing basketball and enjoying club volleyball.
Omar Drira studied at a pioneer high school, where he excelled in academics and various extracurricular activities. His love for science and art motivates him as he pursues undergraduate studies in mathematics at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He is adventurous and never turns down an opportunity to learn something new. In his free time, he enjoys various outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.
Born and raised in Tunis. Youssef Kharrat is an outstanding student. In addition to excelling academically, he pursued many activities outside of school, including volunteering in his community, playing the guitar, and boxing. At the age of 17, he received a scholarship to participate in the Kennedy-Lugar YES exchange program, an experience that helped him step out of his comfort zone and try new things, something he still loves to do today. While abroad, Youssef offered guitar lessons to children, competed in various boxing tournaments, and participated in debate competitions. He currently attends Swarthmore College with a focus on engineering and computer science.
Zeineb Ouerghi is from the small Tunisian town of Kef, where she attended Kef Pioneer High School and pursued her interest in the experimental sciences. Zeineb is a talented student and active member of the STEM community in Tunisia. During her freshman year of high school, Zeineb received a grant to participate in TechGirls, a highly selective exchange program that exposes participants to technology-related topics. After participating in the program, Zeineb was inspired to use technology for social good. She advocates for female digital literacy and is passionate about improving girls’ access to STEM opportunities. She currently attends Minerva School at KGI and studies computational sciences.

incoming class of 2018


DKSSF student Alaa Adel Abdelhamid from Egypt

Alaa Adel Abdelhamid is driven by his passion for the sciences. During his senior year at the STEM High School for Boys, he created a YouTube channel about science, which he manages and writes scripts for, and cofounded the physics group at his school. He is also an avid blogger about science and participated in multiple science fairs and competitions, including the Intel ISEF Science Fair and Ibn al-Haytham National Science Fair. He also travelled to Germany on the “Deutschland Plus" exchange program. While living in Giza, Alaa joined the EducationUSA Competitive College Club at Amideast/Cairo and maintained an excellent academic performance including a 4.0 GPA, a perfect score on the Physics SAT Subject Test, and a 107 on the TOEFL test. Alaa’s outstanding academics and extracurriculars earned him an International Honors Scholarship from Sewanee: The University of the South, which will help support his degree program in physics and philosophy. 

DKSSF student Yahia Ali from Egypt

Yahia Ali has high aspirations and a passion for biochemistry. Throughout his high school studies, he excelled in the academically rigorous Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) program, achieving the highest scores in his advanced level chemistry course on a national level. He also earned top scores on the chemistry, physics, and biology SAT subject tests, scoring 800, 800, and 790, respectively. Alongside his academic studies, Ali was active in the EducationUSA Competitive College Club at Amideast/Alexandria, generously supporting his peers in their examinations and college applications, volunteering in college fairs, and serving as CCC president in 2018. Yahia chose to take a gap year ahead of college in order to indulge in his interests, among them playing the violin and reading. He is excited to attend the University of Rochester, where he plans to study biochemistry. 

DKSSF student Saif Elkhamry from Egypt

Saif Elkhamry is driven by a deep interest in STEM subjects. He is also a creative individual who seeks to translate his other passion—the media and digital arts—into developing ways to link art, human perception, and brain processing. Born and raised in Giza city, he excelled in his studies at the competitive STEM High School for Boys. In addition, he managed to find time to head the media committees of eight clubs and organizations, including TEDx, started his own media agency, and recently won the Youngest Designer Prize for a printing company. Saif is looking forward to his studies at Drexel University, where he plans to major in graphic design and continue to discover new ways to link the arts and science. “I don’t just love sciences and arts I also love how they can be linked together,” he asserts, adding that his studies at the STEM 6th of October high school taught him that “arts has a bigger influence to humanity than we think.”


DKSSF student Sahdi Ahmad from Lebanon

Usually Shadi Ahmad is not satisfied with the material presented at school, so when he goes back home, he researches for more information about the things that interest him, such as physics, mathematics, and genetics. He always feels compelled to learn new things, while improving other hobbies and interests. As a leader and founder of the STEM Club at his school, Shadi has never run out of new things to learn. A freshman at Dartmouth College, he hopes to major in biophysics because these two subjects have been his passions throughout his school years. 

DKSSF student Jade Akhras from Lebanon

Jade Akhras is the product of an American upbringing within Lebanese culture. She was born in New Jersey but currently lives in Beit El Kiko. Her father is a part-time professor, and her mother a full-time professor, at NDU. Her parents help take care of her grandmother and are also financially supporting her older sister, who started her master’s degree in spring 2018. Forever passionate about medicine, Jade is excited to major in biology at the University of Pennsylvania and hopes to grow as a person, as well as one day be an up-and-coming entrepreneur in the field of medicine.

DKSSF student Jana Alghoul from Lebanon

Jana Alghoul plans to pursue a career in aerospace engineering. The universe, space, and cosmos have always interested her, eventually becoming a passion that is driving her dream to become an aerospace engineer. Jana comes from a family that struggles financially, but she has always felt pride knowing how hard her parents work for her and her brother. If there is one thing they have taught her, it is to never give up and always keep working towards your goals because everything can be achieved once you set yourself to it — an attitude that will serve her well as she pursues her studies in mechanical engineering at Jacksonville University.

DKSSF student Haya Ghandour from Lebanon

In sixth grade, Haya Ghandour switched to the American Community School in Beirut after receiving a full scholarship. She comes from a family of six; her mom is a part-time history teacher at a public school, and her dad runs a family-owned business. Haya loves community service, whether for a school in Burj Al-Barajneh or just helping with office work at an NGO. Haya takes pride in wearing the hijab, being female, being Lebanese, and having Palestinian origins. Now a freshman at Columbia University, she wants to pursue both mechanical engineering, because she wishes to be able to create things that can improve people's lives in whatever way possible, and political science, because she wishes to continue having discussions in the social sciences field and further develop her way of thinking through issues.

DKSSF student Tatiana Houhou

Tatiana Houhou loves biology, especially cellular biology and genetics. She is planning to become a doctor (a neurosurgeon) or a genetic engineer. Tatiana is proud that she won the Brevet Award, recognizing her top ranking on the Brevet official exams in the Beirut district. She has participated in many activities, including visiting the elderly and distributing clothes for the underprivileged. She joined the Lebanese Red Cross as well. Basketball is a crucial part of her life; for the past four years, she has been on the school’s junior and senior varsity teams and was an assistant coach. She is majoring in biology at NYU Abu Dhabi.

DKSSF student Danielle Marouni from Lebanon

Danielle Marouni has lived in Tripoli her entire life, where she attended Tripoli Evangelical School. Her father is retired from the army and has opened a car accessory shop, while her mother is a biology teacher.  For as long as Danielle can remember, she has been interested in biology, chemistry, physics, and math, to the extent that the first toy she remembers asking for was a microscope. Danielle is attending the University of Rochester, where she has decided to major in either biomedical engineering or general biology since both majors would allow her to pursue similar paths in graduate school. After completing her education, she hopes to engage in research, focusing on innovative ways to improve health care with the help of technology, something that has been her goal ever since she was young.

DKSSF student Alaa Naarch from Lebanon

Alaa Naarch comes from a family of five; his father works as a sales supervisor of Redbull at FDC in Choueifat and his mom is a housewife. As a senior in the life science department at Baakleen Official Secondary School, he participated in student government, tutoring English, and conducting presentations about the year he spent in the United States on the YES program. His passion is video games: When he plays a game, he memorizes the conversations that the characters had and often repeats the game at least three times. He also researches how the game was made and how the idea started. Alaa is a freshman at Wesleyan University, where he is majoring in molecular biology.

DKSSF student Omar Saleh from Lebanon

Omar Saleh comes from Bchamoun, where he graduated from Hussein Massoud School, a public school. His family has a small housewares and gift shop, although Omar’s father passed away in early 2017, leaving him, his three siblings, and mother.  While passionate about dance,  theater, and singing, he has also participated in a range of activities including Model UN, a robotics competition, Science Olympiad, choir, and volunteer work. He also spent a year of high school in the United States on the YES program and, with the help of the YES program, worked on an Instagram page to help promote community service organizations in Lebanon. As an incoming freshman at Swarthmore, Omar is thinking about double majoring in both biochemistry and dance.

DKSSF student Ali Yaacoub from Lebanon

Born in Beirut, Ali Yaacoub comes from a family of six; his father is a security officer and his mother a housewife. Ali studied at Riad El Solh public high school. Because of his family’s limited finances, he also had to get a part time job, at least to cover his own expenses and be a bit more independent, which benefited him in many ways. Ali loves volunteering and community service. He is a good soccer player and a huge fan, as he always tries his best not to skip any international games. Since Ali enjoys math and physics, he is interested in technology and plans to study computer and electrical engineering at the University of Toledo.

DKSSF student Mahdy Yassine from Lebanon

Mahdy Yassine graduated from the American Community School in Beirut, which he attended on a full scholarship due to his family's limited financial situation. His mother is a teacher at the Lycée de la Finesse in Beirut, but whenever possible, he returned to Marjayoun to spend time at his father’s garage to help him. Mahdy has participated in many extracurricular activities and sports including the track and cross-country varsity teams. He also served as a volunteer in the Lebanese Red Cross Emergency Medical Services. Mahdy is attending Harvard University, planning to major in biochemistry in preparation to become a renewable energy engineer. 


DKSSF student Ahmed Farah from Tunisia

Ahmed Farah grew up in the coastal city of Gabes and completed the International Baccalaureate program at the American Cooperative School of Tunis. An avid reader and passionate learner since he was young, he created a “mini chemistry lab” in his father’s garage and later became an instructor at his school's STEM club and a Science Expo curator, as he realized the importance of sharing his fascination with the physical world with his peers. He also became involved in debate in Tunisia and abroad and spent a year of high school in Georgia on the YES program. At Princeton University, he plans to focus his studies on engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship. Looking to the future, he adds, “From here, I hope to put myself on an academic and professional path that would allow me to make the world a better place.”

DKSSF student Ahmed Lassoued from Tunisia

Ahmed (Fedi) Lassoued grew up in Gabes and completed two years in the International Baccalaureate program at the American Cooperative School of Tunis.  He also took part in exchange programs, notably spending a year in the United States on the YES program – experiences that, he says, “opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of one’s comfort zone and how important it is to do hands-on work in the field.”  Not surprisingly, he is excited to begin his studies at Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS), where he is already active in the Centre For International & Professional Experience (CIPE) as a member of the student advisory committee. Fedi — the name he goes by — has many interests, including music, mixed martial arts, and “improv” as a form of theater, and he is open to exploring activities he has never tried before, such as ballroom dance. He envisions majoring in mathematical, computational, and statistical sciences.

DKSSF student Syrine Matoussi from Tunisia

Syrine Matoussi grew up in Ariana, where she graduated from the Pioneer School. The daughter of professors of finance and economy, she spent a year of high school in Massachusetts on the YES program and joined the EducationUSA Competitive College Club to improve her chances of returning to the United States for college. Her hobbies include gymnastics, playing the violin, and public speaking. A passion for debate, in fact, took her to debate competitions in the United States. She also served as the under secretary general for the international court of justice in a major Model UN event in Tunisia. Syrine is excited to be at Smith College, where she intends to study computer science, engineering, or economics.


DKSSF student Hana Ba-Sabaa from Yemen

Despite the challenges of living through Yemen’s ongoing civil war, Hana Ba-Sabaa has excelled academically and has proven to be a resilient and strong young woman. She was the top student in her class at the Noori English School in Aden, consistently ranked among the top 10 students on exams at the state, regional, and national levels, and excelled in debate and public-speaking competitions. Despite experiencing her own hardships related to the war, her compassionate and resourceful nature compelled her to help others through fundraisers, volunteering, and tutoring.  Moreover, having grown up in a multicultural community and being proficient in three languages — Arabic, English, and French — Hana has worked to foster crosscultural relationships within her community, organizing events in all three languages at the Cultural French Center of Aden.  Hana is excited to attend Dartmouth as a King Scholar, using her four-year fully-funded scholarship to study engineering sciences.

incoming class of 2017


DKSSF student Nada Ahmed from Egypt

Learning to overcome adversity at a young age, Nada Ahmed has shown the ability to take on life’s challenges and succeed. Nada’s mother passed away when she was just eight years old, leaving her father to raise her and her younger siblings. Her commitment to school is evident in her academic achievements — finishing high school with a 4.0 GPA — as well as her active involvement in the Competitive College Club (CCC), where she helped organize college fairs and other volunteer activities. She is also an accomplished athlete, excelling in gymnastics, track and field, and martial arts. She placed in the top five in national competitions for both gymnastics and track and field, and ranked 12th in an international fitness course in Poland in 2016. Nada began her studies at Mississippi College in fall 2017.

DKSSF student Shahinda Ahmed from Egypt

Shahinda Ahmed is pursuing a degree in architecture at the University of Cincinnati. Through her many volunteer and service activities, Shahinda has demonstrated a strong commitment to giving back and improving her local community. During high school, she was active in the EducationUSA Competitive College Club (CCC) at Amideast, as well as her school’s Alpha Leo Charity Club and Art and Design Committee. She also volunteered at Alex Marathon, an NGO that organizes weekly runs and races, writing and editing content for its monthly magazine and helping to organize events, including its annual race for awareness of domestic violence against women. In addition, as a volunteer at an arts center in summer 2016, she taught kids the basics of drawing 3D models.

DKSSF student Nour El-Khalawy from Egypt

Nour El-Khalawy is a freshman at the Minerva Schools at KGI, part of the Claremont (California) Consortium. Growing up in Cairo, she earned a scholarship to attend the Maadi STEM School for Girls and was active in the Competitive College Club (CCC). Passionate about computer science, Nour was honored to be invited to join the New York Academy of Science’s Junior Academy and presented her work before an audience that included Nobel Laureates during the academy’s bicentennial celebration. She was also a finalist in Wearables for Good Challenge, a global competition to create innovative and affordable technologies that address issues facing children, and participated in the Microsoft DigiGirlz program, which promotes careers in technology.

DKSSF student Maria Shehata from Egypt

Maria Shehata began her undergraduate studies at the New College of Florida in fall 2017 after graduating from high school in Cairo with a 4.0 GPA. Maria is just as dedicated and successful outside the classroom. In 2016, she placed fourth internationally in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).  She also won a junior membership to the New York Academy of Sciences through the Global STEM Alliance. She loves track and field, which she has been participating in since grade school, and won two bronze medals in the Egyptian National Track and Field Competition. Further demonstrating her well-rounded abilities, Maria also won the Ideal Girl Scouting Competition in Egypt, enjoys playing piano, and volunteered for Smile Makers, a travel and tourism agency.


DKSSF student Loay Alarab from Lebanon

Loay Alarab lived through conditions that would have tempted many students to drop out of school. When his father lost his job in 2016, Loay was concerned that a college education would be beyond his reach. After completing a year of high school in Toledo, Ohio—thanks to a scholarship through the YES program—he was determined to continue his pursuit for higher education. With hard work and the help of Amideast advisers, Loay earned a scholarship from the University of Toledo, where he will double major in political science and economics. Loay hopes to attend law school before returning to Lebanon where, he says, “I want to start an NGO that offers legal services to those who cannot afford them and supports students at risk of dropping out of school.”

DKSSF student Tala Azzam from Lebanon

Tala Azzam grew up encouraged by her mother, a freelance translator, and her father, a journalist, to strive for the best possible education, but finances were a challenge. “If it hadn’t been for Amideast, I wouldn’t have even been able to afford to apply for college in the United States,” she says. By working with Amideast’s educational advisers, she applied for and earned a scholarship from the University of Chicago, where she will be able to pursue her diverse interests. She is considering a major in biochemistry and looking forward to participating in research and internships throughout her college career. After she graduates, she would like to pursue a master’s degree in forensic sciences, an area that will enable her to fulfill her passion for interdisciplinary fields that join different branches of knowledge.

DKSSF student Marc Haddad from Lebanon

Marc Haddad is passionate about engineering and music, and beginning this year at the University of Rochester (UoR), he is thrilled to be pursuing both. After more than a year of hard work in the Competitive College Club (CCC), he was offered one of UoR’s most prestigious scholarships, the Dean’s Scholarship, to study mechanical engineering as well as music at UoR’s prestigious Eastman School of Music. Marc, who graduated from Saint Joseph School in Cornet Chehwan, is excited about expanding his knowledge of the world of automation, while keeping his ardent love for music alive throughout his academic career. “Amideast as a whole and the CCC have been a great support system for all of us,” says Marc. “If it weren’t for them, we’d honestly still be in Lebanon.”

DKSSF student Soha Kawtharani from Lebanon

Born in southern Lebanon and raised in Beirut, Soha Kawtharani has overcome many hardships to pursue her dreams. Soha found support at Amideast, spending a year of high school in the United States through the YES program and then joining the Competitive College Club (CCC) to further her chances of returning to the United States to continue her studies. After applying to several colleges, she was thrilled to earn admission to her top choice, Hamilton College, with a full scholarship. Grateful, she says, “My Amideast experience, as clichéd as it sounds, has been absolutely life-changing. [I can] finally do what I love to do […]. I’m at a truly exciting place right now.”

DKSSF student Joseph Merhi from Lebanon

Originally from Jezzine in southern Lebanon, Joseph Merhi completed secondary school at the College Notre Dame de Jamhour, where he was an excellent student and basketball player whose team won several tournaments. Joseph knew from day one that he wanted to study at Cornell University and worked hard to achieve his goal. Now a freshman at Cornell, he is majoring in mechanical engineering in order to prepare himself to pursue a career in automobile, naval, or aerospace manufacturing, which reflects his childhood passion for engines, cars, and planes. It is something he has always dreamt about and studying abroad will help Joseph get one step closer to his goal.

DKSSF student Mohamad Safadieh from Lebanon

Growing up in Saida, Mohamad Safadieh overcame many challenges as the eldest of three children living alone with their mother while their father worked abroad. A year in Arizona on the YES program awakened his interest in studying in the United States, a goal that he was able to realize after three years in the Competitive College Club (CCC) and winning a scholarship from Vassar College. As he contemplated his path of study during that period, he considered astrophysics, physics, philosophy, computer science, and economics and decided on a double major in computer science and economics with a minor in philosophy. “My journey has been very long and very tiring,” he says, adding that his advice to younger students who may wish to study in the United States is “work hard.”

DKSSF student Jana Sebaali from Lebanon

Jana Sebaali plans to major in electrical engineering at Princeton University. Jana’s father is a retired soldier, and her two older sisters, who are also engineers, encouraged her curiosity in science. An outstanding student at the Saint Joseph School in Cornet Chehwan, she travelled to the United States in 2016 to participate in "TechGirls," a summer program designed to nurture a passion for leadership and sharpen technology skills of teenage girls. This experience inspired her to want to help bridge the divide between refugees and Lebanon’s population with a club for children. She dreams of pursuing a master's degree in a more specialized field and ultimately earning a Ph.D. so that she can teach and share her interest in engineering with college students and experts. 

DKSSF student Lori Younissess from Lebanon

As the only child of a computer programmer and a teacher, Lori Younissess recalls that she was always encouraged to pursue the highest education possible. Participating in a Model UN Conference in New York helped her learn more about gender-based violence across the globe and motivated her to develop the knowledge and legal skills needed to fight for those who don’t have a voice. She set her sights on studying in the United States with the ultimate goal of an advanced degree in international human rights law. Through the Competitive College Club (CCC), Lori learned about American University’s Emerging Global Leaders Scholarship, which the school awards to one international student each year. Impressively, Lori was selected for the award from a pool of 1,250 candidates and she has decided to double major in international relations and political science with a minor in justice and law.


DKSSF student Abdulrahman Ayad from Libya

Born in Libya, Abdulrahman Ayad moved to England with his parents and two sisters when he was four. He initially struggled to make friends and learn a new language and new customs, but he found success in athletics—basketball and taekwondo—and was a dedicated and outstanding student. Though he learned to adapt and thrive in his life in England, his family decided to move back home to Tripoli—where Abdulrahman faced a new period of readjustment. However, he soon felt back at home, and he utilized his strong English language skills to become a mentor among his fellow students. His journey now brings him to the University of Denver, where he is planning to major in computer science and will no doubt use his adaptive skills to take advantage of the many opportunities the university has to offer.


DKSSF student Ali Suleiman from Syria

Ali Suleiman spent his boyhood in Homs, a city that was to become engulfed by Syria’s bloody civil war. By a stroke of good luck, however, his father received a job offer in Latakia, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, a few months before the war broke out, and Ali was able to complete high school there in 2014. A hard worker who cares about his community, Ali volunteered with Al-Twahod organization, which helps disabled children and raises awareness of child protection, and taught English to children at the Jebran Institute in Latakia. Through the DKSSF, he secured admission and funding to American University in Central Asia, where he is majoring in liberal arts sciences with a concentration in international and comparative politics. Today he is optimistic that this new chapter in his life will enable him to pursue his interests and goals.


DKSSF student Nour Benmohamed from Tunisia

Nour Benmohamed grew up in the southern city of Gafsa, where she graduated from the Pioneer School, while also spending year of high school in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on the YES program. She cofounded Tunisia’s first-ever high school press club, LPG Weekly, and was also active in the debate club. With her math club team, she participated in the national mathematical games, making it to the finals in 2014. Nour is now a freshman at Dartmouth College and is considering a major in computer engineering. She joined the Women in Computer Science Club, wanting to learn more about the experiences of women majoring in computer science as well as Dartmouth alumni working at major tech companies, and is also a member of Ledyard, a canoe and kayaking club that organizes outings on the Connecticut River and elsewhere.

DKSSF student Cherine Ghazouani from Tunisia

Cherine Ghazouani grew up in Tunis with her parents, sister, and grandmother and spent her junior year of high school in Rochester, New York, on the YES program. With help from the DKSSF, Cherine was able to return to the area to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Rochester, where she is majoring in optical engineering with a potential double major in economics. She is currently involved in a variety of activities, including serving as the business manager for the Premier Entrepreneurship Club on campus and volunteering as much as possible to give back to the community. Beyond her academic and community service interests, she loves attending concerts and other cultural events in order to meet new people and broaden her perspectives.


DKSSF student Wadhah Al-Fardy from Yemen

In 2014, Wadhah Al-Fardy left Aden, where he grew up with five siblings, for a year of high school in Virginia on the YES program.  It was a year that turned out to be pivotal. He completed more than 100 community service hours and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and The Foundry, an organization that provides activities and workshops for adults and children with disabilities. As the year came to an end, the civil unrest in Yemen intensified and it became too dangerous for him to return home. A U.S. Department of State-funded scholarship program affiliated with the Northwest Community College Initiative made it possible for him to remain in the United States and complete his high school education and continue his studies at Edmonds Community College. Now, as a transfer student at Central Washington University, he is majoring in electronic engineering technology.

DKSSF student Mona Saif from Yemen

Mona Saif graduated from Abdulbari High School in Aden in Crater district, where she grew up, after spending the 2012-13 school year in Phoenix, Arizona, on the YES program. During her exchange year, Mona gave presentations about Yemeni culture, was a member of the photography club, and helped clean and paint the campus. She also performed more than 100 hours of community service, assisting with fundraising sales, thrift shop donations, and cooking at homeless shelters. Upon returning to Yemen, Mona continued her commitment to volunteerism. She joined the Aden YES Alumni Association (AYA), becoming its president after two years, and participated in the Al-Sadqah Hospital Internship Program and the Workshop for Leaders in Teaching English. Through the DKSSF, she earned a scholarship to Georgetown University-Qatar, where she plans to major in international relations.