On September 2nd, 2014 Yosra Albakkar from Jordan successfully defended her thesis in her Masters of Arts in Sustainability Studies at Trent University in Peterborough. By achieving this outstanding accomplishment, Yosra officially became the first student enrolled in the foundation’s scholarships program to graduate.

It all started back in 2011 when Yosra submitted her application to access higher education studies in North America. After successfully completing all the skills tests from Daughters for Life Foundation and Trent University (English language evaluation, Mathematics etc.), Yosra began her journey in Peterborough where she initiated an amazing adaptation process to her new geographical and social environment. From what we have seen during and after her thesis defence it appears she adapted perfectly to the Ontarian lifestyle while keeping her Middle Eastern culture alive and well.

In attendance was a panel of 3 professors responsible for the evaluation of her thesis claims and the decision of granting her a Master’s degree. An impressive number of friends and colleagues showed up to support her throughout this stressful experience. Her presentation lasted approximately 20 minutes and was followed by a series of questions from each member of the panel panel which she handled flawlessly. After a short break during which the panel debated whether or not her work was worthy of the title she was after, her success was officially proclaimed and an overwhelming demonstration of joy ensued.

Also in attendance, via video link, were Yosra’s family members who attended the entire presentation from their home in Jordan. After the confirmation of her successful defence, a conversation, mid English – mid Arabic took place between them and her father expressed his gratitude to the Daughters for Life foundation and Trent University for providing his daughter with this once in a lifetime opportunity.

When asked about her projects for the future, Yosra clearly expressed her excitement to return to her native Jordan and work towards the advancement of women’s social and professional status throughout the Middle East by becoming a leader in encouraging girls to follow their dreams and aspire to a better future than the past generations.

This first success story is for the foundation an overwhelming moment of joy. When he founded it, in 2009, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish had a dream of giving young girls from the Middle East a chance to show their worth, an equal chance to access higher education studies, just like he would have liked his own three daughters to have prior to their tragic death a few months earlier. Yosra Albakkar may be the first graduate of the Daughters for Life Foundation scholarship program, but there are many more to come in the upcoming months and years. The Foundation currently has 9 scholars enrolled in programs in Florida, Ontario, United Kingdom and Bangladesh and is currently recruiting new scholars to provide more and more talented girls from the Middle East to become tomorrow’s leaders. So stay tuned for more, desperately needed, happy news for Middle Eastern girls.