Scholarships at AUC: Opening Doors, Changing Lives

Distinguished scholarship recipients with President Francis J. Ricciardone
Distinguished scholarship recipients with President Francis J. Ricciardone

Zeinab Abd El Aziz is about to graduate with a bachelor’s in electronics and communications engineering from AUC; has interned with the Suez Canal Authority, where she learned about navigation systems and wireless devices used in maritime transport; has conducted extensive research as an undergraduate and has been an active member of student service organizations –– thanks to the Molly Bartlett Scholarship, which supports graduates of Egyptian public schools.

“I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that this scholarship has changed my whole life,” said Abd El Aziz. “It made my dream of studying at AUC come true. I feel truly fortunate not only because of the high-quality education I received at the University, but being an AUC student has changed my way of thinking and perspective on a lot of things. The scholarship brought me into this open community with students from all over the world, from different cultures and traditions. AUC has a diverse community, which I am very proud and honored to be part of.”

Abd El Aziz plans to pursue her master’s and doctoral degrees from AUC, after which she aspires to join the AUC faculty. “My lifelong ambition is to be a minister in Egypt’s government, perhaps in communications or energy,” she said. “I have a dream that one day, I will establish scholarships at AUC to support my University and my country.” 

Abd El Aziz is one numerous distinguished students who receive scholarships to study at the University. This fall, at the fifth annual ceremony honoring new and returning undergraduate scholarship students, AUC welcomed more than 100 incoming undergraduates who received full or partial scholarships to study at the University, in addition to offering awards to more than 170 returning scholarship recipients who have demonstrated academic and leadership excellence. The event brought together students, parents and alumni to celebrate the accomplishments of distinguished scholarship recipients.

Ensuring that top-performers are able to attend the University, AUC offers full-tuition scholarships to more than 240 undergraduate students, and more than 50 percent of students receive financial assistance from the University. In addition, AUC awards approximately $24 million annually in scholarships and financial aid. 

Reaching Out

Muhammad El Gebali, another public school student, realized his dream of coming to AUC after being awarded the Yahiya Arafa Endowed Public School Scholarship, one of 95 named scholarships at AUC. “I wanted to join AUC mainly because of its reputation; it is a great opportunity,” said El Gebali, a senior double majoring in mathematics and electronics and communications engineering. 

El Gebali has taken advantage of the research opportunities for undergraduate students that set AUC apart. He is the first AUC student to participate in the annual Mathematical Association of America MathFest conference, where his team ranked first in the event competition and he won the Outstanding Presentation Award for his research. El Gebali is an active member of several student organizations, including the Robotix Club, Khatwa, and the Electronics and Communications Engineering Association. “I did undergraduate research, presented my work at an international conference and was given an Outstanding Presentation Award,” said El Gebali. “I also participated in competitions, was awarded grants and engaged in activities that have enhanced my soft skills and helped me make professional connections. My dream is to achieve a research position at a university.”

Also supporting public school graduates like Abd El Aziz and El Gebali is the Public School Scholarship Fund (PSSF), which offers full-tuition scholarships each year for 20 public school students to study at AUC. Since its inception in 1990, the PSSF has graduated more than 240 students –– more than 75 percent with honors –– who have demonstrated exceptional academic potential and who come from different corners of Egypt, including Cairo, Fayoum, Zagazig, Bani Suef and Shebin El Kom. 

“I can’t over-emphasize the value of these scholarships,” said Amr Osman ’00, political science graduate and recipient of AUC’s Public School Scholarship who is now associate professor of history at Qatar University. Originally from Tanta, Osman holds a master's in history from the University of St. Andrews and a PhD in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University. “[Scholarships] provide precious opportunities to their recipients to receive education that most universities in Egypt do not provide," he said. "In my case, my AUC education made it possible to continue my education abroad in some prestigious universities. I don’t know how my life would have progressed differently had I not received the scholarship. AUC gave me a good opportunity to discover my potential. I hope many others can get the same opportunity too.”

Full-tuition scholarships are also offered to students from different Egyptian governorates through scholarships such as Empower, Misr El Kheir, Orascom Construction-AUC and Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Scholarship Fund, in addition to numerous named scholarships established by individuals or corporations. Physics student Yumna Moussa is benefiting from such a named scholarship, the Joseph Van Vleck Endowed Scholarship, named after a former AUC trustee and supporting two Egyptian students (one male and one female) who come from outside of Cairo.

For Moussa, who is a member of the AUC Robotix student club, the scholarship has opened new doors. “AUC is and has always been considered the top University in Egypt,” she said. “I feel lucky to be able to study here because AUC’s physics department has a group of the strongest physicists in the Middle East and has made collaborations with some of the world’s most prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT. I am already participating in nanotechnology and nanophysics research with one of my professors, and I hope to co-publish a research paper soon. I also co-organized and took part in a number of scientific conferences. The Joseph Van Vleck scholarship has definitely helped me accomplish my goals so far.”

Fostering Talent 

AUC offers scholarships targeting students who excel not only academically, but also in other areas such as artistic talent, cultural activities, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and athletic achievement. For Nouran Gohar, construction engineering sophomore who was crowned the World Junior Squash Champion for two consecutive years and is the first recipient of the Wadi Degla Scholarship, not only has AUC given her extraordinary academic support, but it has also admired and celebrated her success as a professional athlete. “The Wadi Degla Scholarship is one of the main reasons I stayed in Egypt rather than leaving my family behind and studying abroad,” said Gohar. “It helped me make the decision of majoring in the field I’m interested in while also pursuing my dream of becoming the best female squash player. AUC’s faculty members and departments appreciate my efforts and are always willing to help me maintain an excellent performance in the classroom.”

In addition to scholarships, AUC assists students through financial aid and the work-study program, as well as more than 40 fellowships for outstanding master’s and PhD students, covering a diverse range of fields, from biotechnology and business to Egyptology and education. Approximately 35 percent of graduate students at AUC received fellowship assistance.

Eman Motawi, recipient of the Tarek Juffali Fellowship who lived all her life as a refugee and is pursuing a dual degree in in sustainable development and community psychology, noted how this fellowship will help enhance her career in development, especially in homegrown NGOs. “Being a refugee and living the life of a refugee has enabled me to see different refugee communities who are trying to create real change,” Motawi said. “I was observing all their efforts as part of this community, but I always wanted to play a role in changing the imposed reality on many vulnerable groups. I worked with local and international nongovernmental organizations in Palestine to find a way to empower myself and others. All of the students in the Tarek Juffali Endowed Fellows Program have a common goal: to help a group of people or certain communities in our region or around the world. To reach sustainable change, we need to cooperate with community members and understand their needs. I believe that community psychology will help me and my fellow colleagues do just that.”

Enhancing Diversity

Scholarships also help in developing a diverse student body at AUC, providing a space where top-performing students from different countries and backgrounds can come together. Such scholarships include the Tomorrow’s Leaders Scholarship Program for students from the Middle East and North Africa, the Palestinian Scholarship Fund, the Taher Family Endowed Scholarship for Palestinian students, Al Ghurair STEM Scholars and many others. This diversity is also one of the characteristics that drive students to apply to AUC. “My favorite part about the University is the diversity in everything,” said El Gebali. “I have met people from different cultures, with different views. Some were even quite extreme in one way or another. It has helped a lot to open my eyes to the world around us, and it definitely shaped my personality a great deal.”

Moussa echoed similar sentiments. “The culture at AUC encourages us as students to seek differences in order to grow,” she said. “It is one of the things I will always remember about the University and will carry with me throughout the years.” 

Crossing Cultures

Understanding the importance of multicultural exposure in enriching the student experience and providing unique opportunities for communication and knowledge sharing between people of different backgrounds, AUC has established scholarships for students seeking a study-abroad experience. These include the Dr. Ahmed and Ann M. El-Mokadem Study Abroad Scholarship and the Abdallah Jum'ah Study Abroad Scholarship.

Seif Hamed, business administration junior, spent a semester at the State University of New York at New Palz as part of the Abdallah Jum’ah Study-Abroad Scholarship program. “AUC is a unique place of experience, of opportunity, [and] I was given an opportunity to expand my horizons through a scholarship to study abroad in the United States,” said Hamed. “In fact, before joining AUC, I hesitated whether I want to join AUC or study abroad. But during my freshman year, I realized that the opportunities that AUC offers are not found elsewhere, from the supportive administration, inspiring professors to extracurricular activities, like my own favorite: the award-winning Model United Nations program. These have all allowed me to think more critically and shaped who I am today. And the study-abroad [scholarship] opportunity only adds to this rich and versatile experience. AUC is preparing future leaders who understand a world beyond their own.”

Ola Hussein, petroleum engineering senior who spent a semester abroad at Stony Brook University, also as part of the Abdallah Jum’ah Study-Abroad Scholarship program, echoed similar sentiments. “I am grateful to have [had] this experience and exposure, as it is prepares me for an international career in petroleum engineering,” she said. “Through my time in the United States, I have learned that the value of studying abroad goes beyond the individual student. These opportunities provide the link that connects people and ideas, and fosters greater understanding. Studying abroad during my time at AUC has given me what I could not gain from a book or a classroom. My experience has allowed me to more fully understand who I am and how I can use my education and talents to serve the world. I would like to thank AUC for partnering with institutions around the globe to inspire more students to write their own stories just like I did. I want to personally thank Mr. Abdallah Jum’ah for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. Without your scholarship, none of this would have been possible.” 

Looking Ahead 

AUC scholarship students, ambitious by nature, have big plans for the future. “After graduation, I am planning to continue research in the field of theoretical physics while working on getting my master's and PhD degrees,” said Moussa. “I have set my eyes on the leading physics and astrophysics research institutions like the Max Planck Institute, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and NASA.”  

El Gebali also plans to continue his studies, “After graduation, I am planning to continue in an academic track in mathematics," he said. "I want to pursue a degree at a university in Europe or America. I also recently discovered that I’m interested in philosophy, so who knows what field of study I will choose to follow in my career.”

Giving Back 

For Omar El-Shenety ’05, founder of Multiples Group boutique investment bank in Dubai who studied business administration and economics at AUC with the support of a scholarship, the University was a turning point in his life. Today, he is seeing the return on investment in his education and is choosing to do the same for future students by giving back to his alma mater to make the same opportunities available to future generations. El-Shenety now contributes to the AUC Annual Fund, has named a tree on the New Cairo campus and a study table in the AUC Library, and had his named engraved on the AUC Memory Wall. 

“I was able to make it to AUC, thanks to the scholarships and financial aid that were offered, and would like to see AUC giving the same opportunity to more people, so I have to give back,” said El-Shenety. “I believe the years we spend at AUC are the best time to invest in our lives afterward. Hard work, studying and extracurricular activities don’t go in vain. Alumni should invest some of their time and money in supporting AUC. At the end of the day, it is AUC’s reputation and the consistency of its quality that is keeping the value of our degrees a source of pride.”

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