Young Lebanese Armenian Lori Younissess, Future Human Rights Lawyer
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 first of a series of articles about AMIDEAST’s impact in Lebanon, we are featuring Lebanese student Lori Younissess, who will begin her freshman year this fall at American University on a prestigious scholarship earned through AMIDEAST.
As the only child of a computer programmer (father) and teacher (mother), Lori Younissess says that she was “always encouraged … to pursue the highest education possible.” After participating in a Model UN Conference in New York, she set her sights on studying in the United States. Her topic—gender-based violence—had made her see “what women and children were going through in different parts of the world.”
“I decided that I care too much about this topic to stop my work at the research stage. So, I decided to study international affairs and then pursue graduate study in international and human rights law, so that I can help improve the legal and social circumstances of those people,” she recalls.
For the important first step of completing her undergraduate studies, Lori turned to the EducationUSA advising center, which AMIDEAST manages on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, and its Competitive College Club (CCC), a selective program that helps international students through the complicated process of applying to study in the United States.
That’s where she learned about the Emerging Global Leader Scholarship, a nearly fully funded scholarship that the American University (AU) in Washington, DC, offers international students. This scholarship would be critical to Lori’s ability to afford the school’s highly regarded four-year international studies program.
Lori was selected from a pool of 1,250 candidates for the scholarship. She was one of only four to be interviewed and the only one selected as the winner. While her grades and extracurricular activities made her stand out, she feels her participation in the CCC gave her the edge she needed because AU’s admissions counsellors “know how rigorous its programs are, and how serious and hardworking the students chosen by the Center are.”
Students in the CCC are academic high achievers. The program helps them bring out other qualities and interests that strengthen their applications. Community service and participation in extracurricular activities are important. ”In Lebanon, we usually emphasize academic excellence, which is very important,” Lori observes. “However, extracurricular activities are very important in the United States. If someone wants to apply to study there, they should volunteer as much as possible and participate in as many activities as possible. I definitely encourage them to go to AMIDEAST and its [U.S. Department of State-sponsored] EducationUSA center, because I honestly don’t think I could have done this without their help.”
Lori was born and raised in Lebanon in an Armenian family and graduated from the Armenian Evangelical College. She feels very close to Lebanon and her Armenian roots, and her plans for the future include both. “With a degree in international law, I really want to contribute to the Armenian Genocide Recognition Program. As for Lebanon, one of the things that encouraged me to choose this major is seeing the children who beg on the streets. I plan to establish a scholarship to help them get quality school and university education for free, because this is what will move this country forward.”
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 Lori 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.