The Education for Leadership in Crisis program: A new journey of the first cohort of Afghan women at AUB

​Education for Leadership in Crisis (ELC) is a new merit-based full scholarship program at the American university of Beirut (AUB) that targets female students from Afghanistan offering them the opportunity to undertake their undergraduate studies at AUB.
 
In March 2019, and in partnership with a local Afghan NGO (Women for Afghan Women), and the support of several units at AUB such as the Leadership, Equity, and Diversity Initiative (LEAD), AUB received over 400 applications from all over Afghanistan for the ELC program. Sixteen young women were selected after a long and thorough process focusing on their academic standings, their leadership potential, and their willingness to go back to Afghanistan and play a leading role in the multi-faceted crises that their country faces.


Dr. Carmen Geha, the program’s director and assistant professor at the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration said that: “We believe that this program can be transformative for these brave and determined young women; We seek to explore and unpack what education and leadership can achieve in times of crisis, and how higher education can be a way out of crisis through developing leading female talent. We are so excited about the next four years.”

Students completed successfully their University Preparatory Program (UPP) that offers workshops on different topics and helps new students develop soft and academic skills, and ensure their smooth integration to AUB and its neighborhood.
 
Dr. Samar Harkous UPP’s director said: “UPP faculty and staff had a very enriching and unique experience getting to know these brilliant 16 Afghan young women through designing and implementing the summer 3-week inclusion and orientation program.”  She added: “The main goal of the program was to ensure that these young women go through a smooth transition from their home country to AUB and Lebanon, both at the academic and social level.”

Aged between 17 and 21, and while most of them were leaving their homes and traveling for the first time of their lives, these students were thrilled to join AUB; Student Nargis Naseri said that her experience in UPP was life changing: “UPP helped me not only to advance my academic skills, but also my soft skills.” Student Maryam Sadr considered AUB campus to be “like home”.


Dr. Nadia El Cheikh, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, addressed the students during the UPP completion ceremony saying: “AUB is proud to welcome you as the first cohort of Afghan women. We are privileged to educate women with your courage and resilience and hope that four years from now you will return to Afghanistan as activists and leaders  in your communities.”  

All ELC scholars will enjoy a peer-to-peer mentorship program, a multi-layered academic advisement, but also the chance to work on their leadership potential and community-oriented projects as part of a specific program designed in collaboration with the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS).