Loay Alarab: When Perseverance Pays Off
Since AMIDEAST opened its office in Beirut in 1968, thousands of Lebanese have benefitted from its services that help students study in the USA. In recent years, AMIDEAST scholarship initiatives have helped more than 100 students win over $18 million in scholarships and financial aid to study at American universities and colleges. In the second of a series of articles about AMIDEAST’s impact in Lebanon, we are featuring Lebanese student Loay Alarab, who will begin his freshman year this fall at the University of Toledo (Ohio) on a scholarship and other support earned through AMIDEAST.
As the youngest child in his family, Loay Alarab lived through conditions that would have tempted any other student to drop out of school. In late 2016, his father lost his job when his company closed due to government orders, leaving him with no income to pay for his only son’s tuition at any university, inside or outside Lebanon.
Two years earlier, Loay had won the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Scholarship, a high school exchange program that AMIDEAST administers for the U.S Department of State. Thanks to this opportunity, he attended a school in Toledo, Ohio, while living with a family who loved him like a son. This experience defined his career dreams, as both of his host parents were attorneys who offered pro bono services to those in need. Inspired by their talent and commitment to community service, Loay decided that he wanted to study law and eventually help those who cannot afford to pay for legal help.
When Loay returned to Lebanon at the end of his exchange year, his family learned that his father’s job was being terminated, and it was likely that Loay would not be able to go to college after finishing high school that year. Fortunately, Loay learned that AMIDEAST could also help him through its EducationUSA center, which assists students in Lebanon with the complicated application process, choosing a major, and finding scholarships and financial aid.
In this program, Loay excelled as a hardworking, focused student whose challenging circumstances only made him more determined. In spite of the pressure he felt knowing that winning a scholarship was his only solution, he managed to graduate with the highest grades in his school while also meeting the many U.S. university application requirements, including preparing for entrance exams. In April 2017, he won a partial scholarship from the University of Toledo, where he will double major in political science and economics, and then pursue law for graduate studies.
With a partial tuition scholarship, Loay still faced the challenge of covering the rest of his tuition, room and board, and personal expenses. An unexpected break came when his U.S. host family offered generously to pay part of his tuition and insisted that he live with them during his four years of study. With this, Loay came one step closer to his dream.
That same month, Loay and the other college-bound students who were helped last year by AMIDEAST were asked to meet with the members of the AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board and speak about their future dreams and how AMIDEAST had helped realize them. Moved by this young man’s ambition and talent, Mr. Anis Nassar, chairman of the board, announced that the board would provide the funds needed for him to accept this scholarship offer. “We believe in you,” Mr. Nassar said, “and we know that by helping you achieve your dream, we’re building this country’s capacity.”
Ambition to Give Back
Upon obtaining his degree, Loay will return to Lebanon — to reunite with his family and follow through on his plans to give back to his community. “I want to start an NGO that offers both legal services to those who cannot afford it and also supports all high school students at risk of dropping out of school,” says Loay. Touched by the opportunities presented to him, Loay is determined to mirror all this support right back to his community where it is needed most.
AMIDEAST/Lebanon is joining with its advisory board to hold its First Annual Gala in Beverly Hills on October 14, 2017, in order to raise funds that will enable it to help promising young men and women like Loay gain the education and training they need to realize their potential. Check out the Gala’s website (www.AMIDEASTgala.com) to learn how you can participate and support this worthy cause.