CAIRO: The 54 recipients of the academic scholarship to study at the American University in Cairo celebrated their achievement at the university’s downtown campus on Wednesday.
On its fifth year, the Leadership for Education and Development Program (LEAD) offers full tuition scholarships to 54 students annually – one male and one female – from each of Egypt’s governorates. LEAD is a joint program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation and the American University in Cairo, the university’s website explains.
The criteria used to choose the scholarship recipients is not limited to academic achievement; the students are interviewed thoroughly and judged on personality and extra-curricular activities, Ahmed Taha, assistant coordinator in the LEAD program, told Daily News Egypt.
Scoring 96.8 percent in her thanaweya amma exams, Marwa Mohamed, one of the scholarship students from Port-Said, said that many of the girls who applied for the scholarship had higher grades, but she was chosen on account of her outgoing personality, leadership skills and other talents like drawing.
Marwa gave up an opportunity to study medicine in Port Said, and preferred to move to Cairo and experience the “real world, as she calls it.
The LEAD program’s aim is not only to award its exceptional students scholarships, but also to prepare them to be the future leaders. To achieve this goal, LEAD offers its students a variety of trainings, and requires them to organize an annual conference which is attended by ministers in order to develop their personalities and skills.
Students who keep high grades are awarded by a scholarship to study abroad for one semester.
The ceremony was attended by a large number of old LEAD students, who joined the events as ushers and organizers, as a way of helping the program. Neama Ebeid, a LEAD student and a sophomore at AUC, said that she has learned a lot from the opportunities that LEAD offered her, but it was hard to balance her academic load, extra-curricular activities and LEAD responsibilities.
Tarek Hefny, also a LEAD scholarship recipient and a senior majoring in Computer Science, advised the new LEAD students to manage their time well in order to be able to cope with the intensive program.
LEAD students have a powerful presence in the AUC community.
Nada Hamada was awarded the LEAD scholarship two years ago. Nada arrived from Al Fayoum, with modest English and excelled in her studies at AUC, earning a scholarship for a summer at Harvard. She also participated intensely in activities, as she is now the president of Alashanek Ya Baladi, a development-based community service club at AUC.
Hamada gave the new LEAD students an inspirational speech, advising them to get involved in everything on campus and to give back to their community.
The celebration was attended by the USAID director in Egypt, Bambi Arellano and the American Ambassador in Egypt, Margaret Scobey, who praised the program and called the students “concrete results of the investments put in them.
David Arnold, AUC president, told Daily News Egypt that he was delighted to welcome the fifth group of LEAD students and advises them to take full advantage of what AUC has to offer.