Joumana Talhouk (BA ’17), currently a researcher and consultant at AUB, is one of two new regional recipients of the internationally renowned Rhodes Scholarship and will be attending Oxford University this fall, joining a cohort of other Rhodes Scholars from around the world. Since its launch in 2016, the Rhodes Scholarships for the Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine (SJLP) region have been awarded to five exceptional individuals. They will now be joined by Talhouk from Lebanon and graduate student Amer Baroudi from Syria after a highly competitive selection process.
Joumana Talhouk (front row, center) with members of the selection committee, Rhodes Scholar Diala Al Masri, and Ambassador Edward Oakden.
Talhouk graduated with distinction from AUB in 2017, with a major in sociology and anthropology and a minor in philosophy. She also received the Amal Saidi Memorial Prize for Excellence in Sociology and Anthropology. In addition to her academic accomplishments, Talhouk is an astute political organizer and activist working towards secularism, gender equity, LGBTQ+ rights, and migrant and refugee rights. As an undergraduate, she was president of the AUB Secular Club and an elected USFC representative. She also co-founded Mada, a youth network across different Lebanese universities, and was an elections district coordinator with Beirut Madinati in 2016. Recently, she helped organize marches for International Women’s Day and International Domestic Workers’ Day.
Since graduating, Talhouk has been working as a researcher with Dr. Carmen Geha in AUB’s Political Studies and Public Administration Department, where she coordinated a one-year research project
studying the politics of the Lebanese government’s policy response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Their work was published in the Journal of Refugee Studies
this past September. Talhouk also works in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office on enhancing undergraduate advising and coordinating the Freshman Mentorship Program.
At Oxford, Talhouk plans to pursue an MPhil in Development Studies in order to acquire the academic and technical skills needed to translate the politics of social, economic, environmental, and gender justice into policies.
“The interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature of development studies will hopefully enable me to gain deeper insight into the structural barriers to Lebanon’s progress and to imagine solutions that can complement the work of political activists and organizers,” Talhouk told us. “I hope to return home with more knowledge, skills, and passion to add to the collective toolkit of those working towards equity, freedom, and social justice in Lebanon.”
Talhouk and Baroudi were selected from hundreds of applicants from the region, after a comprehensive three-round screening process involving leaders, policy makers, and leading academics working in the region. Social engagement and interviews were hosted by the British Ambassador to Jordan, Edward Oakden, at his residence in Amman. The ambassador hosted a follow-up dinner with distinguished guests from Jordan and the region to celebrate the winners and encourage more outstanding candidates to apply for the Rhodes Scholarships.
The Rhodes Scholarships are postgraduate awards providing transformative educational opportunities. The program chooses scholars who show remarkable intellect and strength of character that allow them to become leaders in their field and to push the frontiers of novel solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since its inception in 1903, thousands of scholars around the world have taken up influential positions across the public and private sectors and have proven themselves to be committed to causes that serve others, and to create principled and far-reaching impact.
The Rhodes Scholarship for the SJLP region has been made possible through a generous partnership between the Said Foundation, the Rhodes Trust, and the University of Oxford.