New Misr El Kheir Scholars Hope to Develop Upper Egypt Communities

“One of my biggest dreams is to work for NASA, which I cannot reach without an accredited bachelor’s degree,” said Paules Zakhary, from El-Balyana town in Sohag governorate. “Studying at AUC will pave the way to NASA. Here, I am taking the first step toward my dream.”

Zakhary is one of five students in the inaugural class of Misr El Kheir scholars, which brings five exceptional students from Upper Egypt to complete their undergraduate studies at AUC. The MEK scholarship program, like the Empower program, which is in its second year of offering scholarships to students from Upper Egypt, is modeled on the USAID-funded Leadership for Education and Development (LEAD) program, which ran for many years at AUC. The LEAD program brought two students from each governorate, one male and one female, to study at the University.

The LEAD program, which is in its final cohorts, was very successful, and the impact of LEAD graduates in their communities and worldwide encouraged the nonprofit Misr El Kheir Foundation to partner with AUC, and had an impact on the new class of MEK scholars. “LEAD alumni return to their communities and spread the word about AUC and the scholarship program,” explained Sohair Saad, executive director of the Office of Student Financial Affairs and Scholarships.” During the interview, many of the students said they heard about AUC years ago and have been dreaming ever since about coming to the University. They have worked very hard to be accepted. There is a new generation across the governorates who is aspiring to attend AUC because of what they hear from LEAD alumni.”

Zakhary affirmed that attending AUC has been his dream since four years ago, when he first heard about the LEAD scholarship. “Since then, I set my sights on this goal and worked hard to win this opportunity to join AUC, where I could receive a high-quality education and develop the skills necessary to get a decent job,” he said.

The Misr El Kheir Foundation is an Egyptian nonprofit committed to developing Egyptian citizens and their communities. The foundation is sharing the cost of the scholarship program with AUC. In addition to academics, the scholarship program has a culture and leadership component that aims to prepare students to serve as leaders in their communities by instilling the values of cultural diversity, empowerment and conflict resolution, as well as communication skills.

“I wanted to come to AUC to get a good education, and to have new experiences and be more open-minded to other cultures,” said Monika Zaky from Assiut. “My goals are helping people and being successful in my career. Studying at AUC will help me achieve this through the different community-service clubs, and the liberal arts education will give me different strategies for success.”

Participants in the scholarship program are also required to complete a community service component, first by participating in University clubs and/or MEK projects, then by submitting proposals during their junior year for a program they would like to initiate in their home cities in Upper Egypt. “We are looking for students with leadership potential who are committed to serving their communities,” affirmed Saad, adding that the Misr El Kheir scholarship program takes a human rights-based approach to expose the students to the concept of human rights and the possibilities of human rights activism.

Yomna Moftah from Fayyoum governorate looks forward to collaborating with Misr El Kheir to improve the lives of people in her community. “When I graduate, I hope to work with Misr El Kheir to help poor people, and those who need help because of their conditions,” she said. “My dream is to be a chemist and to work on manufacturing medicines. AUC will help me achieve this goal and improve myself, while providing me with an amazing experience.”

Photo caption: The first cohort of Misr El Kheir scholars (left to right): Paules Zakhary, Teravina Naguib, Yomna Moftah, Monika Zaky and Mohtada Ewais