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Hopeful candidates vie for spot in University Scholarship Program
5/30/2017
Jennifer Muller  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 

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Aspiring scholars from all 26 districts of Lebanon converged on AUB during the week of May 29 for Open Days, hoping to secure a coveted spot in the University Scholarship Program (USP). Of the 287 shortlisted candidates invited to participate in Open Days, around 70 will receive full scholarships to study at AUB.

The USP is a highly competitive scholarship program made possible by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It specifically targets financially disadvantaged students from Lebanese public schools with superior academic qualifications who show leadership potential and are committed to giving back to their communities.  

Shortlisted candidates are invited to campus for a full day at AUB that includes interviews, testing, and information sessions. The Open Days are challenging, both for the eager applicants and those tasked with interviewing them. It is an opportunity for these bright young people to show what they have to offer as students and as engaged citizens. 

Two young women from South Lebanon told us that the day was long and a bit tiring, but that everyone was very nice and helpful. Moreover, they have high hopes of getting into USP and making a difference in their country.  

“If we are able to get into this university in the fields we choose, then we will try to make a change in Lebanon,” said one young woman from Jbeil who added that she would like to prepare for a career in biomedical engineering in order to invent machines that help people, such as those that detect and treat cancer.  

Current USP student volunteers helped guide the candidates and their families through their day at AUB. First they met at West Hall, then students took the English exam while parents participated in financial interviews, and then they went on a tour of campus. In the afternoon, each candidate had an important one-on-one interview to discuss their volunteering activities and leadership qualities as well as their academic aspirations. The USP student volunteers coached them with useful advice along the way, such as how to approach the interview session.

“We tell them for the interviews: ‘Don’t get nervous, be yourself, express yourself,’” explained one USP volunteer.  Another said, “It feels good to help people because we’ve been through it ourselves.”

The process of identifying and reaching potential USP scholars is long and time-consuming, with the ultimate aim of finding the most qualified and most deserving students with broad geographic diversity within Lebanon and an equal mix of male and female students. 

Every fall, staff from the AUB Admissions Office visit nearly all the public schools in Lebanon (a total of around 260 schools) in addition to around 40 technical schools, giving out information on the program. As applications come in from across Lebanon and are scrutinized by staff, the candidates’ names are kept hidden and only ID numbers are used to ensure fairness and transparency in the selection process. Shortlisted students are then invited to the Open Days and final decisions are made soon after.

Since its inception in 2011, a total of 269 students have had the opportunity to attend AUB for their undergraduate education at no cost to themselves or their families. The scholarship covers tuition, books, medical insurance, and either dorm fees or transportation, and comes with a monthly stipend and laptop computer. The scholarship also includes funding for their Community-Based Project, which students undertake during their final year. 

“This is what makes this program so unique,” USP VII Director, Dr. Samar Harkouss told us. “Academic excellence, leadership qualities, and a strong commitment to civic engagement and service are the pillars of the program and lie at the heart of AUB’s mission statement.”  

The USAID recently pledged nearly $18 million to support the University Scholarship Program at AUB until 2023. This brings the total amount of USAID funding for the program up to $42 million. 

Earlier this fall, AUB President Fadlo R. Khuri addressed the importance of scholarship programs like USP in his President’s Perspective communication with the AUB community. He also highlighted the achievements of one of the USAID USP scholars in his speech at the launch of the BOLDLY AUB campaign​ in January 2017.

The growing community of USP students and administrators, along with the entire AUB community, look forward to welcoming a fresh batch of eager USP scholars this fall.
Story Highlights
  • ​​Aspiring scholars from all 26 districts of Lebanon converged on AUB during the week of May 29 for Open Days, hoping to secure a coveted spot in the University Scholarship Program (USP). Of the 287 shortlisted candidates invited to participate in Open Days, around 70 will receive full scholarships to study at AUB.

 
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