About 30 donors and 70 students mingled recently at Marquand House, during the annual scholarship donors and recipients reception, which gives students the opportunity to meet the philanthropists who contribute directly to scholarships and grants that make their education possible.
More than 3600 students at AUB, or about 1 in 2 students, currently receive some form of financial aid.
Over the past year, AUB disbursed about $26 million in financial aid, and the University will grow this figure even more, with the help of donors. Over the past five years, AUB has more than doubled its financial aid budget.
Through benefactors and alumni, AUB has established, over the years, about 320 endowed scholarships, or funds that generate revenue, which is used to finance the education of deserving students. To establish an endowed scholarship, a donor must donate a minimum of $100,000.
Donors can also leave their imprint on AUB’s history by giving at least $5000 to establish a one-time scholarship in their names.
Nearly 80 percent of all financial aid donors are AUB alumni.
“The university’s focus on humanistic values and character development in addition to professional skills … is why so many of our alumni speak of the ‘transformative nature’ of an AUB education,” said AUB President Peter Dorman, during his welcome remarks.
Dorman noted that the diversity of the student body is a central component of a liberal arts experience, helping students gain a broader appreciation for different beliefs and opinions. Indeed, it is through AUB’s financial aid program that students from all corners of Lebanon and throughout the region can attend AUB. Currently, more than 80 percent of those who apply receive some kind of financial aid. On average, financial aid packages to students cover 40 percent of their tuition fees, which is double what they used to receive a few years ago.
“If I hadn’t received this scholarship, I would have attended a Syrian public college,” said Besher Al-Makhlouf, an economics senior, who is on the Asfari Scholarship. “AUB has been a life-changing experience. I have had the opportunity to do an exchange program in Paris; I have made friends from diverse backgrounds; and all along I have been studying in English, which will make it easier for me to follow graduate studies abroad.”For Al-Makhlouf, what was really remarkable was being exposed to student activism and critical thinking. “The fact that you can discuss anything you want in any subject you can think of makes AUB unique,” he added.
For Sara Hamzeh, a first-year landscape architecture student on the Bobst Scholarship, if it weren’t for her scholarship, she would have not left her hometown, Tripoli, and would not have met the diversity of people she had met here.“I have friends here from all over Lebanon and from abroad,” she said. “Their experiences are so different from mine. They think differently. Conversations have been thought-provoking.”Even in her first year, Hamzeh has taken advantage of the various student activities on offer: She writes for Outlook and is active in the social media team.“A year later, I am now more tolerant, and more open to other people’s perspectives, and I have grown significantly as a person,” she added.
In a speech on behalf of scholarship recipients, Nour Shurbaji, a fourth-year computer and communications engineering student, thanked the donor who was behind the scholarship she had received.
“The Abdul Malik Al-Hamar Scholarship has given me, and many other needy students like myself, hope for the future and boost to our ambitions,” said Shurbaji.
“AUB has changed my life, how I think, how I feel, what I dream of, how much I read, who to befriend, and when to act,” she said, adding that if it weren’t for the donor’s generosity she would not have had the opportunity to take advantage of all that AUB has to offer.
Thanking his benefactor, Abdul Ghani Hammour, chemical engineering student Charbel Sebaaly said in his speech: “I had hope, that in this vast world, there existed great people that appreciated hard work and fostered perseverance. And that hope became a reality when I was granted the chance to fulfill my dreams, thanks to your generosity.”
Donor Mahmoud Dalal (BE 1973) recounted how his AUB education contributed to his success later on as contractor in Saudi Arabia. “My father, who was not educated, did everything in his power to provide us with an education, including moving the family to Makhoul Street all the way from Rashaya, so we could all go to AUB.”
Dalal added: “Education is the biggest wealth that a young man or woman can acquire. AUB does not only provide education, but also builds personality and offers the tools for a person to thrive in one’s field…. Only by education will Lebanon keep on being a pioneer in the region.”