The Researcher (LBCI) is a weekly TV program, which sheds light on incredible research that has contributed to the improvement of the community. Every week, experts in a field are hosted to discuss the latest developments in that field; then two teams of young researchers from AUB compete for LL15 million by answering questions and introducing an initiative. The show is hosted by Dr. Imad Abu Hamad.
On March 25, 2022, two USAID-USP students majoring in Nursing, Marie-Joe Makhraz (USP 7) and Mohamad Ali Jawad (USP 7) participated in the 7th episode of The Researcher, which tackled the nursing sector in Lebanon and the challenges it is facing. Both students were chosen by Dr. Gladys Honein-Abou Haidar, the coordinator of the Community course at the Rafic Hariri School of Nursing at AUB, to participate in the competition part of the program. The premise of the competition is for each team to answer questions correctly and then suggest an initiative that students can accomplish in their communities.
It is well-worth mentioning that the student participants were not briefed about the topics that they would be asked about during the competition, so the scope of preparing for it was left open-ended. In addition, the teams were formed prior to the filming of the episode, so the participants had to get to know each other well to be able to compete efficiently as a team. This is where both Makhraz and Jawad attributed their success to the USAID scholarship for giving them the opportunity to develop exceptional skills beyond their academic studies.
According to both students, all the soft skills they were trained for during the numerous workshops – from leadership & team-building to time-management to problem-solving skills – were successfully applied in both before the competition began and during the competition. Jawad asserts that all this “would not have been possible had USAID not provided us with the necessary workshops or exposed us to the extra-curricular activities and civic engagement.”
Makhraz agrees with him and affirms that because of the extra-curricular activities that USAID scholarship provides USP students with, the hours spent volunteering in community work have empowered her to work closely with her community as well as assess its needs in order to work on a feasible plan that can have a positive impact on that community. Because of her first-hand knowledge and awareness, she was instrumental in suggesting a suitable initiative as part of the competition. After much volunteering work with NGOs, she was able to propose to create a platform where people in need of medication or healthcare services could contact NGOs that provide these services.
On the other hand, Jawad’s initiative, which he was able to convince his teammates to adopt, aims at eliminating both prostate and colorectal cancers through early detection process by increasing public awareness and utilizing PSA and FIT tests.
After both the studio audience and jury voting was over, the results were announced; Jawad’s team scored higher in both voting processes and thus declared the winners. Jawad confessed, “When I first joined, I was very much interested in the monetary prize of LL5 million per team member. However, after winning the competition and hearing my mom’s elation as she screamed of pride, I felt that the cash prize did not mean as much as the self-satisfaction I got after all the hard work I put into this competition to make my mother proud of me.” He adds that he had never imagined that he could achieve such great success if it weren’t for the USAID scholarship that had provided him with such an opportunity.
Makhraz concludes, “It was a great experience that I will always be proud of because I was able to propose and present my initiative to help those in need in my community. The platform I suggested would help not only those who need medical services but also increase the opportunity for more people to engage in their communities. And all of this came true for me thanks to USAID.” The consolation prize for the non-winning team was LL1 million per team member.
1- L to R: Marie-Joe Makhraz, Rola Chehade, Dr. Imad Abu Hamad, Dr. Gladys Honein Abu Haidar & Nour Abdallah
2- L to R: Members of the two competing teams: Yahya Wehbe, Rola Chehade, Nour Abdallah, Racha Sinno, Marie-Joe Makhraz (USP 7), Mohamad-Ali Jawad (USP 7) [All AUB students]