Introducing Our Scholars
Daughters for Life believes in making big changes to the world; in challenging ignorance and inspiring peace; in educating strong young women with potential and ambition to make the changes around them. These young women were offered educational scholarships due to their strong academic ability, a background of socio-economic hardship, the proven ability to overcome hardship and the dream to make a difference.
Our programs have made a strong impact on our scholars and their communities by :
- preparing future leaders at some of the world’s top academic institutions
- creating rare opportunities for girls and women to gain education
- promoting progress through learning towards Middle Eastern peace
Since 2010, Daughters for Life has helped more than 50 young women from countries like Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, lebanon, Iraq, Morocco and Jordan in joining one of our 17 partnered academic institutions. We have provided the stepping stone for these women to take their success to the next level, to develop old skills, learn new ones and to lead them to opportunities they have never before dreamed of.
The Daughters for Life foundation is proud to sponsor all of its scholars and works hard to make sure each one feels settled and supported during their time studying with our scholarship partners.
“Some people may think that the relation between the scholar and the foundation is all about providing money, but in my case it is a home away from home. When I first came to Canada, I was a bit nervous about my new life, but I was happy to find them waiting for us [at] the airport. That’s what [is] special about Daughters for Life foundation; we see ourselves as daughters of the foundation.”
Despite the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic taking a toll on Lebanon, one of our Daughters for Life alumni, Wardah AlAkrah, continues to thrive as she pursues higher education. Wardah graduated from Manhattanville College in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. With the support of Daughters for Life, Wardah was able to return to her home country Lebanon empowered and motivated to continue her path to success. Now, Wardah is in her home country, Lebanon, working towards her dream of becoming a doctor. From day one, Wardah’s aspired to be a Doctor, and she is currently in her first year of medical school at the Lebanese American University School of Medicine. Although the country is on lockdown, Wardah continues to take courses online and prepare diligently for her exams. Wardah understands the difficult situation her country is facing amidst the pandemic, but she continues to focus on her education because she knows it is the tool towards change.
Wardah’s commitment to Medicine was rooted in her upbringing. As a child, Wardah often accompanied her father to work at the Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped. This opportunity opened Wardah’s eyes to victims of war and accidents, leaving an indelible mark on her. At that young age, Wardah felt a strong urge to help alleviate their suffering. This experience established Wardah’s yearning to become a doctor. She explains that her constant interaction with them helped her grow a sense of empathy, solidifying her interest in Medicine. However, Wardah’s main drive is her grandfather, who, despite his serious illness, was her number one supporter all her life. Sadly, he passed away this October, but his memory continues to live in Wardah’s hard work. She believes that becoming a doctor is a fulfillment of a promise she made to him to always aspire towards excellence.
When she was a DFL scholar, Wardahh proved to be an active student. Alongside her studies, Wardah was an active member of the Beta Beta Beta National Biology Honor Society, and as well as the American Chemical Society. Wardah served as a Student Instruction leader, hosting review sessions for her peers who seek help in certain subjects. Wardah also worked as a Chemistry Lab Assistant, helping prepare lab tests to be conducted later. Also, Wardah attended the Women’s Leadership Conference at Pace University on March 24th, 2017, and received got awarded the Biology Department Sophomore Award!
As expected, Wardah continues to engage productively in her school community. During the summer, Wardah cooperated with Duke University student volunteer in teaching Math to Grade ten Palestinian refugee students in preparation for the SAT’s. In her four years at Manhattanville, College Wardah joined many clubs and was the board member of a few. She gained a lot of awards and recognition, which is helping her now at Medical school. She is the social committee board member of the Medical Students Association (MSA) on campus and a member of the Lebanese Medical Students International Committee (LeMSIC). Wardah is still committed to improving her community as she helped organize a Christmas fundraising event; the funds raised were donated to LAUMC Rizk Hospital to be allocated for COVID-19. Unfortunately, Wardah had to cancel her exceptional plans to participate in an exchange clerkship at a hospital in Malta this summer because of the coronavirus outbreak. Nonetheless, we are incredibly proud of her accomplishments.
Wardah has always been very conscious about the difficulty of the situation in Lebanon; however, this has not stopped her from working hard to finish her first year of medical school. As a Daughters for Life Alumni, Wardah has chosen to face this difficult time with persistence and commitment towards her education. “I consider Daughters for Life as my savior from all the ignorance and pressure I received with regards to achieving my goal of proper education, one of the main reasons why I applied to this program was how it cares about peace in the world amid wars and tension in our globe and how it gives girls and women in the Middle East the chance to have a better education,” says Wardah. Her years as a DFL scholar have helped grow into a strong and independent young scholar. We are very proud of everything she has achieved and will continue to support her endeavors.
To the girls in the Middle East who now look up to her, Wardah says, “I want to tell them that education has no limits. It is an open gateway for whoever wants to pass through. Your gender or some oblivious social perspectives shouldn’t stop you from fulfilling your dream in whatever career you choose to pursue.”
When Waed first became a Daughters for Life Scholar, she was a passionate young woman who started giving back to her community at a young age. As a young girl, Waed dedicated her time after school to work in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. She taught English and poetry to young girls, providing an outlet to express their thoughts and emotions. This experience assisted Waed in discovering her passion and purpose. A pen became her source of joy and catharsis. Now, Waed is our graduate scholar currently finishing her Master’s in English at Brock University. After graduating from Manhattanville College with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Creative writing, Waed decided to continue pursuing education. From the start, Waed had a clear target in mind; she wanted to be a university professor to help spread the knowledge she was given. Now Waed is on the path to achieve her dream. Not only will she be receiving her Master’s this August, but she has already been accepted by Guelph University to pursue a Ph.D. in English.
Waed’s fascination with education started from an early age as her parents ensured she understood the importance of education for a Palestinian refugee. She has excelled at all levels of her educational path and hopes to do the same in her Ph.D. studies. This fascination is rooted in her interest in the potential of writing and books in propagating the voices of the underrepresented. “As a child, I was fascinated by libraries, and reading was my main hobby. It intrigued me to see thoughts and opinions being translated into a book. Being a young Palestinian girl living in the Middle East and engaged in social work, I saw so much potential in my community that I wanted to project to others. I think writing is a great medium for women from the Middle East to earn a voice in the world,” says Waed.
In Canada, Waed took her first steps towards a career in education. During her Master’s, Waed worked as a teaching assistant. She taught two undergraduate introductory English seminars and assisted in grading and tests. She believes this experience is essential for her future as a professor. Waed’s research was accepted for presentation at two conferences, The Congress at Western University and The FIILM Congress in Vienna. Both conferences were rescheduled due to the Pandemic.
Currently, Waed is working on completing her master’s thesis focused on analyzing and establishing the value of Refugee Poetics as a genre of literature. Additionally, she is working as a research assistant with two of her university professors. She is helping one professor with his research and assisting another professor in creating material for her new course. Waed is particularly excited about creating a cultural sensitivity guide to ensure that TA’s understand the best ways to teach and support international students.
Soon, Waed will be a Daughters for Life alumni, but her commitment to the foundation will not falter. Waed’s belief in Daughters for Life’s message has strengthened her interest in education as the tool in bringing about prosperity and development. Waed acknowledges, “the Daughters for Life scholarship is more than just an open door towards an opportunity for me. Yes, the scholarship allows me to pursue the goal of becoming an active, well educated, and goal-oriented women in my community. It also means a lot to me because of the message it carries. Having seen the severity of the situation the young men and women face in the Middle East, I understand and respect the foundation for alleviating some of this suffering.” In September, Waed will start her new journey to acquire a Ph.D. and return to her teaching positions at a new university. We couldn’t be prouder, and we wish her all the luck.
From a modest home in Cairo, Egypt came a young girl with an extraordinary gift for science. Marwa Soliman has always been the sharpest mind in her class, scoring top grades, and sometimes even a score of 100%l. At age 14, she was chosen to speak on Egypt’s national television to advise students on ways to balance time and studies.
This shy whiz kid was soon scouted by Egypt’s top science school for exceptional students, STEM. The school chooses only 120 girls to study at their institution. Marwa’s brilliance in science and critical thinking got her the coveted spot at this school. However, the challenge of learning in English took her aback. Although, Marwa knew it was now or never. Soon enough, Marwa not only picked up the language but also won many other academic awards.
“At STEM school, my first project was to produce biogas from organic waste. We also tried to solve the water problem in Egypt by building a desalination system using graphene sheets and silver Nanoparticles. This project won us the first place in Egypt, qualifying us for the world’s biggest science fair for high school students in Los Angeles, California. There, I learned that anything is possible and the different cultures and languages of the world are actually the same in their core” Marwa share with a smile.
Today, this 19-year-old is studying biology and pre-medicine at Manhattanville College in New York.
Marwa shared her story of how she came one of our scholars, “fortunately, one of my school mates, Mayar, got the Daughters for Life scholarship to complete her undergraduate degree in Canada. At that time, I heard about the story of a strong man, Dr. Abuelaish, who lost his three daughters because of war. But in return, he decided to establish a foundation to help Middle Eastern girls pursue their dreams and give them a new life experience. I’m very grateful to Dr. Abuelaish and the Daughters for Life board for giving me this chance.”
“It is not that easy to be a young Egyptian girl who wants to study medicine abroad,” Marwa recalls. “It took me 19 years to shape my personality, interests, hobbies, and language in order to be able to do this one day. 19 years of fighting, accepting challenges, living away from my family just to one day be what I want,” says Marwa with a sigh of relief.
Beyond just knowledge, the experience of studying at a top university is instilling within her a confidence and a self-belief that girls possess the power to change the world.
“As a future physician, I hope one day I would be able to find cures for diseases, help people worldwide, and help the developing communities, especially Egyptian girls, to know that nothing is impossible. That’s my dream,” reveals Marwa.
Marwa is a true champion of the notion empowering young women through education to promote peace that Daughters for Life Foundation advocates. Marwa believes her degree from Manhattanville College will help her to build peace in the world and her home country of Egypt.
“I deeply believe that I’m a daughter for life. I want to help others and every single step in my journey is pushing me towards that goal” Marwa says with confidence.
Fighting against all odds, 17-year-old Alaa El Hajjar is building a future for herself and her home country of Lebanon. Decades of civil war, bloodshed, and political turmoil in Lebanon have exposed Alaa very early on to the vulnerabilities of humanity. The hardship endured living in such a volatile environment sparked in Alaa’s sense of purpose. Alaa wants to make a difference to her community.
With the encouragement of her family, Alaa continued to succeed in her academics. She invested her time in gaining extracurricular skills such as: learning French, swimming, and playing the piano. She immersed herself in contributing to the humanitarian efforts that her school participated in. However, it was losing her beloved grandmother to cancer that steered Alaa towards her destiny. The passing of her grandmother grew her aspirations of becoming a doctor.
Alaa recalls the life-changing moment, “I wanted to convert my sense of helplessness to motivation and ability to make a change.” Daughters for Life Foundation has helped to encourage and support Alaa’s dreams and ambitions of becoming a doctor.
Today, as a Daughters for Life Scholar, Alaa is pursuing a major in Biology and a minor in Pre-Medicine at the Manhattanville College in New York, USA.
“This scholarship has opened doors and opportunities for me to get a higher education so that when I come back to Lebanon, I can make a difference,” shares Alaa.
The crippling shortages of medical care in the Middle East conflict-torn regions motivates Alaa. She hopes her continued education and university resources can help increase medical care within the Middle East.
“A highly acclaimed university will have advanced facilities and research that can enable me to contribute to my field of study or help in tackling medical issues on a global scale. I might be able to find treatments and cures for diseases that were a dilemma for mankind generally and the Middle East especially,” says Alaa.
Alaa is already making a name for herself at Manhattanville College. She is an active member of Manhatanville’s Biology and Chemistry Club. Whether it is volunteering in lab experiments or participating in college events, such as the Breast Cancer Walk, Alaa is eager to gather as many new experiences as she can.
The soft-spoken and gentle Alaa is also geared up to champion the cause of women’s empowerment in Lebanon. She describes, “being a woman in the Middle East is still somehow considered as a drawback to some people. Through my education, I want to show that we women are strong and independent. We are capable of making a huge difference. This scholarship gives hope for all girls in the Middle East that they can make something of themselves and achieve their goals if they work hard.”
Alaa’s message of hope and education for the girl child echoes with what the Daughters for Life Foundation stands for. Lasting peace in the Middle East can only be achieved if its women are at the forefront of dialogue and change. Brave young girls like Alaa have traveled thousands of miles away from their homeland to access quality higher education with the help of the Daughters for Life Foundation.
Maha Mehanna, one of our inspiring Daughters for Life alumni, graduated from Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) last year with a Master’s in Conflict Transformation and a Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship. As a Palestinian woman, selecting such majors reflects her willingness and aspiration to work towards helping her community, which is afflicted with political turmoil. Currently, Maha is a full-time student at EMU in Harrisonburg, Virginia, pursuing a second Master’s in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) and a second Graduate Certificate in Restorative Justice (RJ). As expected, Maha is a model student with A-standard grades; she has always shown great dedication to education. She hopes her educational excellence represents her as a DFL scholar and as a Palestinian from Gaza. Maha was among those celebrated during the EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) virtual graduation for students graduating this year. She hopes to further her success by acquiring the Optional Practicum Training and pursing authorized employment in the United States. Impressively, she has already finished one practicum training at the Fair Field Center, which focuses on mediation and conflict resolution training; and she has presented her capstone, which had one of the EMU’s biggest attendance records ever.
Maha is currently completing both the MAOL and the RJ Graduate Certificate programs at EMU and will officially graduate in August. Because of her high academic achievements, EMU has awarded her a 50% tuition scholarship. We wish Maha the best of luck in her future endeavors!
One of our impressive scholars, Merehan Mostafa, recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business (with a specialized concentration in Marketing), and a Bachelor of Arts with dual majors in Political Science and International Relations, the only graduating triple major of her class, from the University of Rochester. During her senior year, Merehan was recognized as an exceptional student as she was elected into Phi Beta Kappa, America’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. This accomplishment is only awarded to the top 120 students of the graduating class each year. This achievement reflects the level of true dedication Merehan puts into her education, revealing an impressive work ethic. Merehan reflects proudly on the highlight of her senior year as being selected to sit on the Senior Giving Committee. As part of this leadership organization of senior class members, Merehan showed commitment to her community as she helped educate her classmates on the importance of giving back to areas of the campus that mattered most, such as student organizations and scholarship funds. The fact that this is her proudest moment shows how community oriented Merehan is as a scholar, hoping to continuously contribute to the betterment of any community she is in.
As she looks back on her college experience, one of Merehan’s highlights was being selected as the student speaker for the annual TEDx conference in front of 500 attendees. Her talk, about the “Power of Living in the Now,” focused on spreading a message of hope and urged listeners to take advantage of the present moment by celebrating all the moments of impact in our lives, no matter how small or brief they may seem. Merehan appreciated the opportunity to carefully curate, magnify, and develop her ideas into a meaningful talk that resonated with her classmates and other attendees, and she is happy to be part of a select group of TEDx speakers around the world.
Having graduated with a triple major, Merehan hopes her degrees will secure a job at the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or an international organization like the United Nations in Egypt. Merehan wants to dedicate her efforts to promoting women’s rights and encouraging intersectional gender outlooks. She wants to raise awareness on the importance of gender equality in politics and business and hopes to break down barriers surrounding women’s involvement in such areas. Merehan states that she selected these majors because they equip her with the necessary skills and foundational knowledge needed to pursue such multi-faceted career paths; she hopes that she will be ready to take on the job market soon.
Merehan recognizes the role that DFL played in her success story. She explains that DFL opened the door for her towards opportunity and success and supported her in pursuing her dreams by helping her stay focused and optimistic. Being a DFL scholar demanded that she consistently make the most of every opportunity so that she may be in the best position to enact positive change in her community back in her home country, Egypt. When thinking of DFL, Merehan is filled with a sense of gratitude for their continuous support and motivation. She feels fortunate to be part of the DFL family and will continue to help create better futures. Finally, Merehan hopes to inspire girls in the Middle East to start believing in themselves and follow their passions and dreams. She advises them not to be afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone, as it is worth it to learn more about themselves and their career aspirations. We are very proud of Merehan as she sets the standards high for our scholars.
Rozana Jaber is another Daughters for Life scholar who recently graduated from the New College of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Affairs. After returning to Palestine, Rozana is focusing her energy on exploring the job market. She reflects on her experience as a DFL scholar and appreciates how that experience prepared her to face life post-graduation. “My experience going into a 4-year degree program abroad, and in a unique place, has given me a wide outlook on life. Having met people from diverse backgrounds, I feel confident in interacting with people with different religious, cultural, and political backgrounds. The DFL Scholarship gave me a chance to learn with worrying about expenses, placing no huge burdens on my parents. I am thankful for this one in a lifetime opportunity,” says Rozana.
Nowadays, Rozana is part of the Global Shapers Community that is a network of youth under 30 who dedicate hard work and effort to tackle issues on local and regional levels. This community has hubs all over the world and in most countries. As part of her hub, Rozana is helping work towards creating better socioeconomic conditions for people living in East Jerusalem. We are impressed that despite the pandemic, Rozana continues to work virtually to spread positivity and information in the community. Rozana is taking the time to learn more about entrepreneurship in Palestine and looking for internships to prepare herself for the possibility to pursue further education in Public policy abroad.
In addition to her engagement with the community and the labor force Rozana has taken the time to focus on personal and physical development. She has restarted plating soccer as well as other sport. She also joins the Right to Movement Group where she goes on weekly runs and learns from teammates. She admits that despite the exhaustion from running long distances, she views running as a great way to achieve milestones in different areas of life. Rozana was planning to run the Palestinian Marathon, but unfortunately, that was canceled due to Covid-19.
After her experience with DFL, Rozana turns to other girls in the Middle East who are potential DFL scholars and asks them to “think of the opportunity as a great blessing to learn and enhance their characters. Be open to learning, but also do not feel coerced to change any of your values. Work on yourself and appreciate the value education brings to you.”
We are excited to see all the successes and achievements awaiting Rozana.