For more than a dozen young women from the Middle East, Daughters for Life has provided much more than scholarship money.

Now wrapping up her first year of studies at New College in Florida, Racha Masara credits the foundation with providing her an opportunity to achieve her career goals, and easing her transition to studying abroad.

“I left literally everything I know to come here,” says Racha. “Moving to a different place, having these experiences and being independent, while also having a support system to help with all the things that come with moving, makes it less scary.”

Racha is from Latakiyah, Syria, and was looking to study abroad when she discovered the Daughters for Life program. Her interests lie in the arts, and she says most of the universities in Syria focus on subjects many consider more pragmatic – sciences, engineering, medicine etc. She wanted to attend a school that offered more arts based education, and found the Daughters for Life program at New College through EducationUSA.

“I have similar ideals to Daughters for Life, so I thought it was very cool and I applied,” she says.

She was delighted to learn she had been accepted into the program at New College, a liberal arts school where she is studying a number of subjects including art history, film and theatre. She says the benefits of an arts education are tremendous.

“It helps you think more critically about everything, and so it’s more about developing a new perspective than it is the material,” she explains.

Racha arrived at New College in August 2014, a huge move that could have been very overwhelming, but she says Daughters for Life made the transition easier. They connected her with a host family, assisted with paperwork and banking, and the scholarship covered room and board.

Beyond academics, moving abroad with the support of Daughters for Life has allowed her to thrive in a new environment. Classmates elected Racha as first year rep on the Student Allocations Committee, part of New College’s student government, and come fall she will be an Orientation Leader for the incoming class, helping students feel as comfortable as she does at school.

“I’ve definitely learned how to engage with a different culture, make connections with people who have completely different backgrounds than I do, and reach a middle ground,” she says.

While Racha doesn’t have to determine her major until her third year of school, she’s leaning towards humanities and art history. Her eventual goal is to become a filmmaker.

“It’s the most accessible way to deliver a message to a large amount of people,” she says of film.

Racha is just one of many young women who have benefitted from the Daughters for Life program, which ultimately helps more than just its scholars. The women return to their home countries equipped with the skills to launch careers, and shape their communities.

Racha was talking to Andrea Hall