Four women from the Middle East will touch down in Florida today to attend New College of Florida on full four-year scholarships, the first class of scholars to be supported through a partnership between the College and the Daughters for Life Foundation.
The College and the Foundation announced the ground-breaking scholarship pact a year ago. Since then, they have been identifying students with both academic promise and a commitment to improving quality of life and strengthening the institutions of their home countries.
“We’re honored to have these four outstanding young women joining the New College community,” said Donal B. O’Shea, president of New College. “We look forward to helping them become advocates for peace and advancement, and we welcome the perspective their distinctive voices will bring to both the classroom and campus life.”
“This partnership between Daughters for Life Foundation and New College of Florida is an indication of hope and good will to make the impossible possible. When we all come together and take responsibility, we can make a positive change,” said Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, founder of the Daughters for Life Foundation.
Dr. Abuelaish is the author of “I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey,” which he wrote in response to the death of three of his daughters, killed by Israeli shelling in 2009. The book, a call for forgiveness as a catalyst for peace, has been translated into 17 languages. He has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
He created the Daughters for Life Foundation to provide hope and education to women of the Middle East. The Foundation, based in Toronto, Canada, has provided dozens of scholarships, fellowships and awards since 2011. The pilot program with New College is the largest partnership in the Foundation’s history.
The members of the first class of New College’s Daughters for Life Scholars are:
Leen Al Fatafta is from Amman, Jordan. She graduated in the Scientific Stream from Jubilee School in Amman. After high school, she joined a language certificate program in Turkey. In addition to volunteer work with refugees, and starting a reading club, she has participated in debate through Jubilee Model UN, Model Arab’s League, and her high school’s Arab Summit and Parliamentary Council. She said her primary academic interests are political science and gender studies, stemming from growing up in the Middle East, and said her guiding principles are freedom of choice, freedom of speech and equity.
Najla Fawwaz is from Eilaboun, Israel. She graduated from Sisters of St. Joseph High School in Nazareth two years ago and has been working since then. She has a love for languages, and participated in a high language course in Germany with students from other countries. She has done volunteer work, rebuilding and cleaning roads and parks in Arab and Jewish villages, as well as reading to children with cancer and assisting at a children’s summer camp. Her primary academic interest is biochemistry and she hopes to attend medical school and become a doctor.
Racha Masara is from Latakiya, Syria, where she graduated from Private National High School. She has participated in debate and math competitions, and is particularly interested in theater, dance and music. Her main interests outside of school are playing guitar and reading. Her primary academic interest is in literature and the study of foreign cultures. After graduation from college, she hopes to be a writer and filmmaker.
Loureen Sayej completed her high school studies in Palestine at Ramallah Friends School. She joins New College from Muscatine Community College in Iowa, where she co-hosted a television show on international topics, was president of the student senate and secretary of the honor society. In Ramallah, her volunteer work included teaching English in orphanages, and cooking and cleaning in nursing homes. She attended Seeds of Peace international summer camp, as a camper and then as a leader. Her academic interests include international and area studies, economics and political science. She hopes to work for the United Nations or a non-governmental organization as an advocate for women’s and children’s rights.
The scholarship program covers all costs of pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree at New College, including tuition, room and board, books, lab fees and supplies. The Daughters for Life Foundation also provides for the cost of the student to travel home and return to college once a year.
The Daughters for Life Scholars will meet all academic requirements of other New College students, including the provision of SAT or ACT scores, and have demonstrated proficiency in the English language. They will arrive on campus in August, go through orientation with their fellow first-year students, and live in the College’s dormitories.
New College of Florida is a national leader in the arts and sciences and is the State of Florida's designated honors college for the liberal arts. Consistently ranked among the top public liberal arts colleges in America by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and The Princeton Review, New College attracts highly motivated, academically talented students from 38 states and 20 foreign countries. A higher proportion of New College students receive Fulbright awards than graduates from virtually all other colleges and universities.
The Daughters for Life Foundation, founded by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, is dedicated to the belief that lasting peace in the Middle East depends on empowering girls and young women through improved education and health, to develop strong voices for the betterment of life throughout the Middle East. It provides awards, scholarships and fellowships to women from across the Middle East.