Shining Bright: Introducing the 5 DFL Scholarship Winners of 2023!
The Daughters for Life Foundation is delighted to officially welcome our new cycle of 2023/24 scholarship recipients! Attending partner institutions across three continents, we are giving our warmest welcome to a total of five new scholars joining the ever-growing network of young women whose lives have been touched by our program. Though it’s a busy time for them as they prepare for their upcoming travels, we caught up with them this summer to get to know them a little better, offering them the spotlight to share who they are and the impact of their new scholarships.
Rahma Elsayed, Bachelor of Social-Economic Sciences, Antwerp University
Our first interviewee was Rahma Elsayed, a nineteen-year-old from Egypt. She will be enrolling at Antwerp University in pursuit of her undergraduate degree in Social-Economic Sciences. Over the course of our conversation, Rahma’s bright-burning passion and lively personality came through as she contextualised her reasons for choosing her program of study. It came down to a journey she went on during high school that was prompted by her broad interests when she founded an astronomy club at her school. While active in the club, Rahma helped organise a major school event, establishing partnerships between different departments. This led to a widely attended event, involving much of the student body, and it was after the success of the event and Rahma’s delivery of a speech explaining the organising process that she discovered her own leadership and project management potential.
It was a combination of her discoveries about herself and her growing interest in areas of logistics, communication and collaboration that led her down the path of choosing to study Social-Economic Sciences at Antwerp University. As a scholarship recipient during high school, Rahma discovered the Daughters for Life Foundation after researching scholarship pathways to allow her to study in the United States, which was her initial intention. She changed her mind in the end after finding DFL’s program to be an ideal fit for her, and she resolved to apply.
For Rahma, the application process was one without friction. With the help of loved ones, preparations were straightforward. During the interview phase, Rahma greatly enjoyed her experience, feeling that DFL’s interviewing committee was deeply engaged, highly supportive and showed a genuine interest in her overall success. While studying, Rahma discovered her acceptance decision via email when she opened her inbox to submit an assignment. An air of celebration took over in her home as she rushed to tell her family the great news.
“You can’t imagine how it changed my life,” She said during the interview, recounting the moment in her own words. Coming from a traditional Egyptian village which was lacking many resources for girls education, often lacking support from society and family, and with an acute lack of technology, she always felt her options in education were limited to the STEM fields preferred by those around her. But through DFL, Rahma was able to pursue something she truly loved and was bestowed with the opportunity to seize on her independence.
Rahma is currently awaiting her travels in the fall and is eager to prioritise her studies at Antwerp. On the weekends and on holidays, she hopes to learn more about Belgium and participate in extracurriculars. We’re looking forward to keeping up with Rahma’s journey.
Abeer Abu Ramadan, Bachelors in Human Resources Management, York University
Abeer is a seventeen-year-old Palestinian student who will be attending York University in Toronto, Ontario to pursue her undergraduate degree in Human Resource Management. In trying to blend her academic interests in the fields of Psychology and Business, after a meaningful period of research, she found that Human Resource Management would be a great fit for her as a naturally social person with an inherent curiosity about people as well as a passion for helping others.
Her experience of discovering and connecting with the Daughters for Life Foundation was prompted by a family gathering. Abeer shared her interest in studying abroad, specifically in Canada, to her parents and was informed by her uncle that there was a Canada-based organization known as the Daughters for Life Foundation that he felt may be of benefit to her, considering her intentions. After his recommendation and encouragement, Abeer conducted her own research to learn more about DFL and its various program offerings. In learning more about the Daughters for Life Foundation, Abeer was moved by the foundation’s dedication to serving young women and girls in the Middle Eastern region, citing that there is often limited support available to the disadvantaged demographic in their home countries.
“They believe in us,” Abeer said, in reference to the foundation. That faith and advocacy for women was what spurred her to take the next step to apply for the scholarship. Despite her initial worries, her parents fully supported her decision to take a chance on such a great opportunity, and before Abeer knew it, she began her application process.
Over the course of her application and interviewing process, Abeer felt very supported by DFL staff overseeing the scholarship cycle and had no trouble navigating the steps along the way. Her advice to future applicants is that they should be honest and sincere, and that they should believe in themselves and their own validity as potential scholarship recipients.
Once the selection process came to a close, it was during a tense political situation in Palestine that Abeer received news of her acceptance. Despite the complexity of the climate, she and her family were able to find a moment of joy amidst the worrying situation. She recounted her application experience being a nerve-filled one despite the structure of the application itself being very clear. Her worries that other applicants would be chosen over her were put to rest by the confirmation that she achieved her goal, joining DFL’s growing circle of scholars.
In September, Abeer will be arriving in Toronto and is excited to attend a diverse institution, looking greatly forward to the high potential for cultural exchange while also remaining devoted to her studies. We’re excited to follow alongside Abeer on her path!
Amna Hmeedat, Masters in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Our third interview featured new DFL scholar Amna Hmeedat, a twenty-four year old accountant who comes from Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, Palestine. She is a brilliant young professional who acquired her undergraduate degree in Accounting and Computer Information Systems from Bethlehem University and is part of the 2021 graduating class. Her reasoning for pursuing a Masters degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem stems from her longtime and ever-growing interest in the nonprofit industry. She feels strongly that with the increasingly rapid change that is being seen on a global scale, people and organizations are in dire need of cutting-edge solutions for a wide variety of issues that have an effect on various communities. Amna also cited her desire to work with and serve marginalised demographics, with a specific focus on young girls in the Middle East who are seeking opportunities to further their education to escape cycles of generational and cultural disadvantage. To that end, Amna decided to learn more about the structure of nonprofit organizations and decided on her program of choice.
Similar to our other new scholars, Amna’s first introduction to the Daughters for Life Foundation was by word of mouth, specifically from her brother who attends a university in the Palestinian region of Ramallah. With his connections in public relations, he was able to share a resource with Amna, containing many options for students seeking scholarship opportunities. Among the listed organizations was DFL, which Amna was excited to research. Her final decision to apply for the scholarship program was a natural outcome for Amna who had been seeking scholarship opportunities as early as a whole year before she applied to DFL’s scholarship. She felt that her discovery of the foundation was a meaningful twist of fate, and although she was rejected by other scholarships due to the volume of applicants, she took each rejection in stride, choosing to embrace optimism and take it as a learning opportunity. Moreover, in the Palestinian workforce, a Masters degree would give her a competitive edge.
While navigating the application process, Amna was able to easily overcome minor obstacles, citing that her experience was otherwise very smooth. To future applicants, her advice is that young women should be willing to do what they know they really want to do. “If you’re planning something, go ahead,” She said, “You can do it.”
The moment Amna discovered that she had been accepted as a DFL scholar was a deeply memorable one for her that she still finds to be unbelievable. The acceptance, she said, means alot to her as she knows the struggles that Palestinian women endure firsthand. She feels that the scholarship will help her achieve one of her dreams, and that although challenges may lie ahead, she feels more secure in facing them head on.
Her goals for the upcoming year are to develop her skills in her chosen field for the purposes of landing a fulfilling job upon graduation. She also hopes to continue connecting with people in Jerusalem, embracing the multiculturalism of the city while also gaining more professional experience.
Chifaa Bouzid, International Business Post-Baccalaureate Diploma, University of the Fraser Valley
Chifaa Bouzid is a twenty-one year old Moroccan graduate from Al Akhawayn University. She is the proud recipient of an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and a minor in Business Administration, and she will be the very first DFL scholar to attend the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia in the Fall/Winter 2023-2024 academic year. Her interest in the university’s International Business Post-Baccalaureate Diploma is rooted in Chifaa’s personal interests broadening during her undergraduate studies. As a highly engaged student, she participated in a wide variety of extracurricular programs and competitions relating to computer science and programming applications including DigiGirlz, a Morroco-based initiative designed to support young women with an interest in the tech field. Chifaa felt that she wanted more of an entrepreneurial spirit within her skillset, and began to look outward at the global stage. The global focus of the IB Post-Baccalaureate Diploma felt like an excellent fit for her.
Chifaa’s past experience with scholarships came in handy as she began her journey with the Daughters for Life Foundation. As a scholarship recipient during her Bachelor’s degree, she understood the general process, and was on the list of students who received scholarship opportunities via email on an annual basis. The Daughters for Life Foundation crossed her radar by appearing as one of the suggested options for students like herself which led her down the rabbit hole of learning more about the foundation, it’s scholarship program and the specific eligibility requirements she would need to be aware of as a potential applicant.
Chifaa has always had a try-new-things mindset, which is how she approached her academic and personal life, leading her to incredible achievements such as getting four scholarships in the past as a result of her work ethic and willingness to put herself out there. Chifaa resonated deeply with DFL’s mission as an advocate for female education, and she felt that her values matched the foundation. The entire process was notably transparent with many clear dates provided for checkpoints and deadlines.
Chifaa expressed that she felt the foundation had a very personal touch compared to her earlier experiences, and she felt very supported and like the foundation had a personal investment in her success. She shared that parents were very proud of her for the achievement of being chosen among a pool of many applicants.
As she is due to attend the University of the Fraser Valley this upcoming academic year, Chifaa is eager to connect with the international student body, getting to know Canada a little more and grow more familiar with the atmosphere.
Raghad Zughayer, Master in Political Science, Antwerp University
Rahgad is a twenty-four year old Palestinian. In her undergraduate years, she secured a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Linguistics with a minor in Journalism as a result of her long-term interest in all forms of communication, but specifically the written word. Her purpose in doing so was to embody her deep-rooted interest in Palestinian literature, hoping to serve as a voice of her people through her writing. She will be attending Belgium’s Antwerp University to secure her Masters in English Literature and Linguistics in the Fall of 2023.
With her field of interest being the humanities, Raghad had a longtime goal of pursuing her graduate studies in Europe. She discovered the Daughters for Life Foundation through Antwerp University who advertised the foundation as a program partner. Her first impression of the foundation was one of intense appreciation, especially as she perused through the records of previous scholars as featured on DFL’s website and official posts across social media channels. She especially loved the lack of restriction on program selection among DFL scholars which runs highly contrary to other scholarship programs.
Raghad was in her second year of scholarship applications when DFL came into her line of sight and it was that prior experience that pushed her forward, deciding to seize the chance while she had it rather than second-guessing herself and waiting for another cycle. She applied immediately as the application for the scholarship program opened and found the entire process to be without any issue on her end.
The application was personal and she felt that its structure allowed her the chance to be persuasive and sincere. When asked about her advice to future applicants, Raghad expressed that the flexibility granted to DFL scholars in terms of what to study is unique and very liberating, making it a very valuable opportunity to pursue. Future applicants should feel encouraged to research the foundation more deeply for themselves.
After receiving the email confirming her acceptance, Raghad needed a moment to process it. Her hopes came to fruition after two long years of effort and uncertainty, which led to her brief disbelief before being very delighted and thankful. She worked in different fields and for different organizations while she applied for scholarships and struggled to find space in the industry she was most interested in, but now she feels incredibly confident as a DFL scholar on the road to this new chapter in her life.
The next few weeks will be a busy time for our incoming scholars as they set off from their home countries to enter a new phase of their lives. DFL will also be hard at work, preparing to welcome them warmly, ensuring that they will always feel supported starting from the moment they set foot in their new homes away from home. We congratulate the 2023-2024 scholarship winners once again and look eagerly forward to their bright futures!