“I never imagined when I had this idea to launch a student-led scholarship fund in 2002,” remembers VP Imad B. Baalbaki, “that it would be so successful.” Fingerprints is a fundraising program for students by students. Under the close supervision of the Office of Development and the Office of Student Affairs, graduating students mobilize their classmates to leave their fingerprints behind as they graduate by making a donation to the Fingerprints Endowed Scholarship Fund. Many people have contributed to the success of Fingerprints over the years – the University Student Faculty Committee (USFC) that regularly contributes to the Fingerprints campaign; individual trustees who make matching gifts to increase the impact of students’ contributions; and – more than anything else – the graduating students who make contributions to this unique initiative.
The students were especially active – and generous – in 2022 contributing almost $97,000. “It is truly remarkable that so many of our extraordinary students, many of whom are facing financial challenges due to the situation in Lebanon, stepped up to help other students, but I’m not surprised.” said Baalbaki. Fifty-eight percent of Fingerprints donors were themselves financial aid recipients; 30% of them benefited from donor-funded scholarships. “Our students are exceptional. Their generosity and compassion for each other touches my heart,” said Baalbaki.
Some Fingerprints donors, like mechanical engineering major Lama Rita El Shammas, also volunteered to be Fingerprints “ambassadors.” Lama, who is a member of the USFC, says that she loves Fingerprints because it gives students “the chance to help their fellow AUB mates.” Lama Rita says that many of her classmates feel the same way. “I think graduating students are eager to contribute as they want to give back in any way they can after the unmatched experience they had during their years at AUB.” Elie El Hajj, who is also a member of the USFC and majoring in economics, was motivated to become a Fingerprints ambassador because he wanted to help other students. “Fingerprints is all about forging a strong bond between different members of the AUB community,” he explains. Elie, who received financial support himself, says that AUB students want to have a positive impact. “When we told graduating students that their donation would help other students to have the same experience that they did, they donated because they knew that the cause was worth it.”
Fingerprints donor and USFC member Adnan Al Hafi also received financial support which he says was a big help to his parents – and was one of the reasons he volunteered to be a Fingerprints ambassador. When asked why students support Fingerprints, Economics major Adnan points to “one of the worst if not the worst economic declines in Lebanon’s history.” The biggest reason he thinks AUB students support Fingerprints, however, is that they feel they are part of a community “in which people help each other and everyone has love and respect for one another.”
Like many AUB students, Fingerprints Ambassador Talal Kaddoura, who majored in finance, has faced challenges in recent years due to the financial and economic collapse of Lebanon. Having received financial support himself, he knows what a difference a scholarship can make. “Financial assistance played a crucial part in enabling me to complete my studies,” he says. Like Adnan, Talal was also prompted to become an ambassador because of the financial help that he received. “I felt like it was time for me to volunteer, especially to support such an amazing and helpful scholarship fund.”
The Fingerprints campaign was once again supported by the University Student Faculty Committee (USFC) that matched contributions up to $50,000. “Fingerprints is one of the unique funds present at AUB and has supported the education of many students and continues to do so.” explained USFC VP Hasan Slika. “It is because of this firm belief in the importance of this fund that the USFC tries to support it in all ways possible.” All student contributions to the Fingerprints Endowed Scholarship Fund were matched by an AUB trustee, carrying on a long-standing tradition of trustee support. In previous years, matching funds were provided by the late Kamal Shair (former student), the late Ali Ghandour (former student), Farouk Jabre (BA ’58), Omar Alfardan, and Randa El-Sayed Haffar (BA ’90), as well as other trustees who chose to remain anonymous.
Hundreds of students have benefited from Fingerprints scholarships over the years. Elio Baz, who is majoring in business administration, is one of them. “I would not be where I am today if not for AUB, and I would not be at AUB if not for the Fingerprints Scholarship that helped me achieve my dreams,” he says. Another Fingerprints Scholarship recipient is Chirine Badro, who is majoring in medical laboratory sciences. “My dream of higher education would not be possible without the generous support of Fingerprints donors. The fact that this support comes from fellow students makes it all the more precious,” she says.
The Fingerprints Fund, which is now valued at over $2.7 million, has so far provided more than 350 scholarships worth more than $860,000 to AUB students like Elio and Chirine. “We’re just getting started,” said Baalbaki. “I’m looking forward to the next 20 years – and beyond!”