Higher Education Response to the Syrian Crisis
San Francisco, March 9, 2017 – One year after Jusoor and the Institute of International Education (IIE) launched the “100 Syrian Women, 10,000 Syrian Lives” Scholarship Program, sixteen Syrian women have successfully completed their first semester and are thriving at some of the most prestigious universities in the United States and Canada, including Harvard, York, Brown, and New York University.
These scholars were selected based on demonstrating exemplary social service with leadership, academic excellence, and civic responsibility, having characteristics reflecting the importance of empathy, humility, courage and resilience, and having potential to serve as global leaders. Despite gender parity at Syria’s universities prior to the conflict, Syrian young women are approximately three times less likely to access higher education in exile than their male counterparts. Without this scholarship, these women likely would not have had the opportunity to continue their education and realize their full potential.
This past October, our scholars met in New York City for their first annual mentorship meeting to connect with each other and discuss ways to collectively make positive changes to society. At this meeting, we produced a short video to showcase some of the incredible women we have supported this past year, available now on YouTube and Facebook.
These women—studying majors ranging from Biology to Political Science to Modern Culture and Media—have a deep-seated passion for civic responsibility and a strong potential to serve as global leaders. In only one semester, they are already getting involved on campus and making an impact on those around them.
Nour Mounjaed, originally from Damascus, has a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering and a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Damascus University. Through the “100 Syrian Women, 10,000 Syrian Lives” Scholarship Program, she is currently pursuing a Master’s in Technology, Innovation, and Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. In addition to her studies, she is an intern at the MIT Media Lab, a research assistant at SLATE at Harvard Kennedy School, and works part time at the Access and Disability Services office at the Graduate School of Education.
“My hope is to work on educational interventions for refugees using technology, as well as participate in advancing education in the Middle East” says Nour.
Another scholar from Hama, Syria, Lama Ranjous, is studying for her Master’s in International Policy and Development at Middlebury Institute for International Studies. She shared, “I want to be active in the post-conflict peacebuilding process in my country, focusing on education and policy development.”
Rania Succar, Board Member at Jusoor, discussed the amplified impacts of the scholarship program, “What we’re recognizing and noticing in all our programs is there’s a phenomenal multiplier effect. With every student you educate, they go on to have massive impact on others around them in the community.”
In addition to receiving scholarships, students are provided additional support through monthly online mentorship sessions, covering topics like making the best out of on-campus resources, and employment and taxes in the U.S. and Canada. Students also benefit from one-on-one mentorship by a group of volunteer mentors, as well as resume assistance and career development workshops.
Jusoor and IIE launched the “100 Syrian Women, 10,000 Syrian Lives” Scholarship Program with the goal of leveraging higher education and philanthropic partnerships to address common barriers to educating students during the Syrian crisis. Currently, there are ten scholars in the United States and six in Canada. An additional 13 students will be placed at U.S. and Canadian universities this year.