On Friday, I had the privilege to speak at Columbia University Business School in a conference on Innovative Solutions for the Refugee Crisis. I was invited by a group of MBA students currently working on a new scholarship program for displaced students by Columbia for next year, and they asked me to share my story and the story of Illinois Tech-Jusoor scholarship program. This program served as the catalyst for a number of other scholarship programs in the U.S., like that of Columbia.
Although discussing critical topics, like refugee education, usually takes a lot of effort in preparation, putting together a speech and a presentation, in this case, was quite easy. It was mainly easy due to the quality materials at hand, and here I refer to the achievements of Syrians graduating from other scholarship programs in the U.S.
Illinois Tech graduating Syrian students have gone to work for Apple, Google, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, SOM, BlueCrossBlueSchield, Grainger, Motorola and many others leading companies, making it relatively easier to make the case for investing in the higher education of Syrians. They say actions speak louder than words, and on Friday I only had pictures of my friends who transferred from Syrian universities to Illinois Tech, and a description of what they went on to do after graduation. I didn’t need to argue for the viability of investment in higher education, nor the possibility of intervening and the place for U.S. academic institutions in doing so, I only showed how it was done, and why it was worth doing.
M.S. AUD Candidate ’17| GSAPP, Columbia University
B. Arch ’15| Illinois Institute of Technology