On April 1, alumni chapters from various Lebanese universities held their first-ever joint networking event at Vargas Steakhouse in Montreal. The event drew more than 100 participants. (From left to right) chapter presidents: Maral Abajian Younes (Notre Dame University – Louaize), Rami Zein (LAU), Basma Neaime (Université Saint-Joseph), Shada Salman (AUB).
Alumni and friends from the Toronto Chapter gather for their annual dinner on March 5 at Mazza Garden Restaurant in Ajax, Ontario.
Presidents past and present! (From left to right) Samer Andary, Georges Ayoub, Dina Jidaa (current president), May Sarout, Ed Shiner (Director of Alumni and Special Projects in N. America), Fadi Allos.
East coast Florida alumni gather for dinner at E.R.Bradley’s Bar & Grill in West Palm Beach, FL on Saturday, March 12. (From left to right) Sally Andary; Elie Andary; Ed Shiner; Paige Kollock; Rabih Nehme; Michael Mcaar; Solange Mcaar.
West coast Florida alumni got together for lunch at Brio Tuscan Grille in Tampa, FL on Sunday, March 13. (From left to right) Dr. William Kurban; Lara Asmar Kurban; Ed Shiner; Dr. Lyna El Khoury Rumbargher; Dale Rumbargher; Paige Kollock; Chad Chaar.
I consider myself a Lebanese-American because I was born in the U.S., my father was Lebanese and my mother was American. When I was 17, I was first introduced to my Lebanese relatives. It was culture shock for me the first time I went to Lebanon, as I had never been out of the United States. I remember the smells of the souks, chaos everywhere, and the beautiful women, not necessarily in that order. Ever since, I have been visiting Lebanon almost every year. My favorite things about Lebanon are the food, the wine of the Bekaa Valley and the hospitality of the Lebanese people.
What do you do professionally?
I consider myself an entrepreneur. I have had at least five careers and am now seeking my next one. My greatest success was starting a company that performed clinical trials for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. I co-founded the business in the basement of my home in New Jersey, and 10 years later sold it to a Fortune 500 company. I guess one can say I lived the American dream.
To what do you attribute your success?
A great education was absolutely the foundation for my success. I was fortunate enough to have parents who encouraged their children to get the finest education, and paid for it. For me, it involved going to McGill University and Harvard Business School. I learned discipline, how to focus and how to compete with some of the best students. I did the same for my kids, and I have witnessed their own personal development and professional success as a result.
I am also a bit of a risk-taker, in terms of not being afraid to go down paths which have a lot of unknowns and would make many people a bit uncomfortable. I live by the motto that I would rather regret what I do rather than what I didn’t do.
What do you like about LAU?
I had never heard of LAU until they made the scene in New York City several years ago. The New York campus hosts many cultural events which have given me exposure to all things Lebanese without having to travel very far. The lectures, films, artistic and culinary events have not only further enriched my life, but have given me a sort of Lebanese pride. I think every American seeks a connection with their ethnic roots, and LAU NY has provided me with the means to feel connected.
What are the different types of financial aid LAU offers?
LAU offers two types of assistance: scholarships based on academic performance and financial aid based on need. We have several different scholarships available, including some that pay full tuition. Financial aid packages are determined based on need and can provide anywhere from 15 percent to 50 percent of tuition. It’s also possible for students to receive a combination of scholarships and financial aid.
Are we seeing changes in student demographics, and are those changes effecting the number of students requiring financial assistance?
Among applicants to LAU, the need for financial aid has dramatically increased. The economy in Lebanon is depressed, employees are accepting lower salaries and many employers are not paying salaries on time. With the unstable political situation in the MENA region, many people have less money. For all of these reasons, the need for financial aid has increased. As an example, in recent years we’ve experienced a 30 percent increase in the number of highly qualified applicants who are in need of financial assistance. We’ve been able to accept many of these outstanding students thanks to LAU’s ability to offer outstanding combinations of scholarships and financial aid.
Why is now a critical time to support LAU?
The political and economic circumstances I’ve mentioned put an unprecedented stress on everyone’s finances, and on our financial aid and scholarships budget. At LAU, we believe all deserving students should be given the opportunity to benefit from a university education, regardless of their financial circumstances. Gifts from our alumni and friends are an important source of funds for student financial aid. In light of the current situation in Lebanon and the region, this financial support is more important to us – and our students – than ever.
LAU has world-renown Model United Nations and Model Arab League programs. What is the university doing to ensure continued success for these young leaders?
We have created MUN and MAL scholarships ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent of tuition. These scholarships are on top of whatever financial aid these young leaders may receive.
LAU’s health sciences schools are producing top doctors, nurses and pharmacists. How can the university help level the playing field for aspiring health professionals from all socio-economic backgrounds?
The university can help by offering scholarships and financial aid packages of various levels, especially to bright students from rural and economically disadvantaged far areas across Lebanon.