Graduation 2020

On behalf of all of us at LE.O, we wish you good health and high spirits.

We invite you to celebrate with us the tremendous achievements of our scholars graduating this Spring. We couldn’t be prouder of our scholars and more honored to serve them. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these students have had their lives upended during the last semester of their degrees. Several events that they were looking forward to, including commencement ceremonies, were cancelled or postponed. Yet they, along with all the other students have shown resilience, grit, grace, and good humor as they navigated the uncertainty and stress that came with the situation. Please join us in applauding them.

As you know, the LE.O program is run by the students themselves; volunteering their valuable time and sharing their knowledge and experiences with each other to empower one another and strengthen each other’s ability to thrive and succeed in what otherwise would have been a very stressful experience. At a time in which students are navigating a foreign education system and coping with a life far away from home, the LE.O Community offers our scholars a network through which they can feel connected and supported every step of the way.

With the oversight and support of our strong board, host families, partners, and donors, we are seeing the positive results we all work so hard to achieve.

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Deya' receiving a tour of Wael's camp in Lebanon

Wael


This May, Wael (Burj El Barajneh Camp, Lebanon) will be graduating with a Master of Science in Management from Lehigh University, where he had an incredible journey filled with challenges and accomplishments. He learned even more than he expected to with the transition to online courses in the Spring Semester.

The business acumen he developed through the M2 Program complements the important skills he developed during his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, which he also received from Lehigh University, making him more marketable in a competitive job market.

What’s Next: Currently, he is seeking employment anywhere globally, in fields that interest him and which align with his experience and educational background. These include pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, chemicals. He is passionate about improving things and would like to pursue a career to draw on that passion in process development and continuous improvement, product development, R&D, and project management.

Deya’ first met Wael the summer before he arrived in the US to begin his undergraduate education. He took Deya’ on a tour of his home in the Burj El Barajneh Camp in Lebanon, where she met with his family on what was to be the first of many visits.

Wael immediately became a valued volunteer at LE.O, taking on the responsibilities of arranging travel for the incoming Freshman, offering mentorship to younger LE.O Community members, building training webinars, and serving as a financial advisor for the past two years. This lead to more leadership roles over the years, and currently he is a board advisor.

To view Wael’s LinkedIn profile, follow this link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wael-haidar1/

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With Deya', "with words to live by"

Iman


This spring, Iman (Gaza) completed her Master of Art degree in Women’s and Gender Studies (with a Philosophy concentration) at Eastern Michigan University with a 3.94 GPA.

She had received her bachelor’s degrees in English Literary Studies and Biology from Columbia College, South Carolina in 2015.

What’s Next: Iman plans to return to her home in Gaza for two years to gain some on-the-ground experience in women’s issues before moving on to pursuing her PhD. Aside from volunteering for LE.O, her post-graduation plans include polishing some of her scholarly articles to submit them for publication in academic journals, organizing and conducting wellness workshops for women and girls in Gaza, and writing her first book of stories of Gazan women.

Iman received admission from Eastern Michigan University in 2017 but wasn’t able to obtain the necessary permits for travel. After deferring her admission for a year, Iman requested LE.O’s assistance in navigating the process of travel. From offering advisement on the permit application process, to having LE.O partner, Toledo Hotel, host her while in Jordan, to covering airfare expenses, LE.O was by Iman’s side every step of the way. LE.O’s support also included also covering funding gaps that Iman’s graduate assistantship didn’t cover and connecting her with professionals in her field who are currently serving as valuable mentors who can guide her in her next career steps.

In addition to her role as the Director of Student Affairs at LE.O, Iman also gives back to the LE.O community by assisting in editing newsletters, offering translation services when needed, as well as providing academic advisement to our students.

To view Iman’s LinkedIn profile, follow this link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iman-abuaitah-1b1708ba

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Deya' visiting Marah in NYC during her summer internship in the AI Labs, Microsoft.

Marah


LE.O scholar Marah (East Jerusalem) is a first-generation university student. She has just received her Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Computer Engineering from The University of Rochester.

What’s Next: Marah is looking forward to continuing her career as a Research Software Engineer at Microsoft, where she accepted a job offer starting this summer.

Marah joined LE.O almost five years ago. With LE.O’s assistance, she prepared for the college application process, dedicating endless hours to obtain a scholarship opportunity through one of our partner schools.

With the guidance of the LE.O, Marah also committed her time to intern at various organizations both in the U.S. and back home every summer since the beginning of her undergraduate studies. She has also been very active during the school year; participating in several clubs on her campus and supporting the adjustment of new LE.O scholars to campus life.

Marah is a valued member of the LE.O Community and we look forward to following her future successes. She plans to start contributing to funding other students at LE.O once she is employed.

To view Marah’s LinkedIn profile, follow this link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marah-abdin/

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An original work by a gifted artist.

Mariam


Mariam (Gaza) receives her Master’s degree in International Affairs from Marquette University this May, where she serves as a Trinity Graduate Fellow.

Mariam had completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration (with a Fine Arts minor) at Columbia College, South Carolina. During the years following her graduation, she worked for the International Monetary Fund, then the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

What’s Next: Mariam plans to relocate to Rock Hill, South Carolina, where she hopes to explore career opportunities in research and academic organizations or at local nonprofits that share her passion for one’s city and a desire to improve neighborhoods for all people. As an adaptable self-learner, she hopes to contribute to an organization’s needs through creative problem-solving through empathetic leadership and technical skills.

Mariam is one of the founding members of the LE.O Community. After her experience as an international undergraduate student from Palestine, Mariam felt strongly that it was important to establish an organization that would take a holistic approach in the process of ensuring sustainable successes for under resourced Palestinian youth seeking a future through education. She was instrumental in advising and contributing to the Standard Operating Procedures as LE.O was being established. From her own personal experience, she was able to provide grassroots insight and invaluable advice to establish, guide, and grow the LE.O program. Mariam continues to work as mentor, sounding board, and promoter for all we do.

To view Mariam’s LinkedIn profile, follow this link :https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariam-ashour/

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Guest of The Toledo Hotel Amman during transit.

Ihab


Ihab (from Hebron, West Bank) has just received a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering Concentration Biomechanics, from The University of Rochester.

What’s Next: Next Fall, Ihab continues on to a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering at The University of Rochester, where he received a generous scholarship offer.

We met Ihab on his first day on campus as he was registering in. He, like LE.O scholar Sultan, had received a scholarship to attend Rochester, but was alone in the U.S. Upon meeting Deya’, he too requested to join the LE.O Community for guidance and support.

Initially, Ihab had intended on pursuing a medical degree and becoming a doctor, but as he settled into his studies and understood the financial constraints of this dream, he took the path so many other LE.O Community members had also discussed with LE.O Mentors, and decided that research would be just as intellectually rewarding.

We followed his successes and achievements closely and supported him throughout his journey as an undergraduate. He has become a valuable mentor to LE.O’s younger community members and we look forward to his continued contributions to LE.O and the younger generation.

To view Ihab’s LinkedIn profile, follow this link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ihab-el-atawneh-455721136

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On campus delivering bedroom setup to LE.O Freshman.

Sultan


This month Sultan (Ramallah, West Bank) graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Business and Mathematics from The University of Rochester, NY.

He was chosen as the recipient for the Helmut Weymann prize for outstanding insight, ingenuity, and skills in engineering experimentation.

What’s Next: We are excited to announce that Sultan will continue his educational journey at The University of Rochester, where he received a scholarship to pursue a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering/Biomedical Engineering.

Sultan had managed to secure a scholarship to attend The University of Rochester on his own. He met LE.O Executive Director, Deya’, on the first day of university as he was checking in. Confused as to why he was registered as an Israeli student not a Palestinian, he overheard Deya’ speaking with a member of staff on the same matter as she was helping a LE.O scholar check in. The school immediately corrected their files and Sultan asked if he could join the LE.O Community. Sultan instinctively knew he was not going to be able to navigate the university experience all on his own, and therefore needed a support structure for guidance.

As a valued member of the LE.O Community, Sultan has assisted the LE.O Freshmen settle in over the years, and represented Palestine in various cultural awareness events on his campus.

LE.O has stepped in to guide him with internship selection and connected him with LE.O partners and contacts whenever he needed. On his way home one year, he enjoyed the hospitality of LE.O’s valued partner, The Toledo Hotel, in Amman. During the school breaks or whenever he needed a homecooked meal, Sultan has also enjoyed the hospitality of Judy and her family, LE.O’s valued host family partners.

To view Sultan’s LinkedIn profile, follow this link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sultan-sabha-696735123

LE.O is resolute in believing that Palestine’s forgotten families can be elevated from the endless cycle of poverty through the gift of education.

We continue to be dedicated to offering free college preparation and application and selection guidance to our motivated and bright high school students. By identifying existing scholarships worldwide to match them with; guiding them through visa, passport and travel needs; filling the small funding gaps to enable enrollment; and supporting their every need through mentorship, the LE.O community is there for the students every step of the way throughout their higher education journey.

Privacy is a great necessity for each and every one of our students. However, I know that many of you can imagine the challenges these brilliant yet under-resourced youth experience.

We cannot achieve these successes without the help of our donors and partners. We still need you. We know you believe in the value of our work. Please step in to allow us to continue our work. Every dollar gifted has value to the students, now and always.

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