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US Ambassador visits AUB to celebrate USAID-USP graduates as difference-makers
6/15/2017
Jennifer Muller  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
A high-level delegation from the US Embassy joined an enthusiastic crowd of University Scholarship Program (USP) students, alumni, and staff to celebrate the many successes of this transformative scholarship program. The ceremony was held to salute the 44 USAID-USP scholars who graduated from AUB this year. It included inspirational advice from the US ambassador and AUB president, a heartfelt student testimonial, and a rousing musical performance.

Initially established in 2011, the USP is made possible by the goodwill of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Its aim is to make a first-rate education available to financially disadvantaged youth from all districts of Lebanon.

The ceremony included US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, USAID Acting Mission Director Bill Butterfield, AUB senior leadership, USP partners from the Lebanese American University, current and former USP scholars, and AUB faculty and staff.

Dr. Malek Tabbal, director of USAID-USP at AUB, welcomed the assemblage and noted that the USP graduates recently established their own alumni chapter within AUB’s Worldwide Alumni Association. He also introduced a short video about the rigorous, transparent, and competitive process of selecting around 70 new scholars that will join the AUB USP community in the fall.

President Fadlo R. Khuri then came to the podium and thanked the American people for their continued commitment to USAID, saying that it is “one of the most important things America does in the world.” He also spoke directly to the USP scholars and recent graduates in the audience.

“You are our ambassadors,” said President Khuri. “You go out there and you make a difference—one person, one village, one town at a time—and that comes back because more people will embrace what you’re doing and they will also not only want to make a difference, they will know that they can make a difference.”

US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard continued in this vein, saying that “Lebanon’s development depends on human capital and the talent of its young people.” She also addressed a question people often ask her about why the United States invests so much time and money into educating other people’s children.

“We believe that the stability, prosperity, tolerance, open-mindedness, and enlightened thinking that you are learning and that you are practicing in this country is going to be good for all of us,” said Ambassador Richard. “It’s going to be good for the greater Middle East region; it’s going to be good for the entire world.”

Introducing the student representative of this year’s USP graduates, Dr. Tabbal said that Omar Tantawi is both academically outstanding and highly civically engaged and thus he “embodies every successful aspect of the program.” Having just graduated with a BS in Chemistry, Tantawi explained how the program transformed his life.

“Without it, I would never have had the chance or the time to develop a sense of social responsibility and willingness to make change,” said Tantawi. “Without it, I would never have had the chance to develop new skills. Without it, I would never have learned English and had the chance to participate in international workshops. Without it, I would never have had the chance to be a good implementer and a positive change-maker in my community.”

Following the speeches, Dr. Tabbal reviewed some of the many academic awards and achievements of the USP graduates from 2016-17, underscoring how these scholars excel in a variety of disciplines.  Finally, a talented alumna from the USP II cohort, Chirine Ibrahim, took the stage to perform two traditional Lebanese songs with her band, Tayarah men Warak, captivating the audience and prompting everyone to clap along.

After the ceremony, proud USP scholars shared their Community-Based Projects with a display of posters in the reception area of the AUB Hostler Auditorium. Ambassador Richard, President Khuri, and other audience members talked with the students and learned how they tackled various important issues in Lebanon—such as refugees and environmental concerns—with a creative and hands-on approach.
Story Highlights
  • ​A high-level delegation from the US Embassy joined an enthusiastic crowd of University Scholarship Program (USP) students, alumni, and staff to celebrate the many successes of this transformative scholarship program.
  • The ceremony was held to salute the 44 USAID-USP scholars who graduated from AUB this year. It included inspirational advice from the US ambassador and AUB president, a heartfelt student testimonial, and a rousing musical performance.
 
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Email: media@aub.edu.lb
 
 
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