LAU graduate first from Lebanon to win prestigious Rhodes Scholarship
Alumna Diala al Masri was selected among hundreds of applicants from the region and will pursue a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Oxford.
LAU graduate Diala al Masri is the first scholar from Lebanon to receive a Rhodes Scholarship, a prestigious postgraduate award granted to exceptional students from around the world to study at the University of Oxford.
Upon graduating in 2014 with a degree in political science and international affairs, al Masri said she had been blessed to receive a merit scholarship that allowed her to study at LAU. “This institution has given me the best of the best. Most importantly, it gave me self-growth.”
The exceptional student was not only a high achiever academically, but was, and remains, an active scholar and citizen. Before moving to the U.S. to pursue a master’s in policy economics and economic development, al Masri was a member of the U.S. embassy Youth Advisory Council, an assistant director of operations at the World Youth Alliance, working as an advocate of human dignity, and a project manager at UNDP.
At LAU, she was active in the Global Classrooms LAU Model United Nations (MUN) and held the positions of under-secretary-general for school relations and outreach, and high school trainer and school relations coordinator, receiving the Harvard MUN Diplomacy award in 2013. Her dedication to civic engagement also earned her the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Community Ambassador Award.
Her diverse extra-curricular activities did not deter al Masri from attaining the highest GPA in the School of Arts and Sciences. In recognition of her stellar accomplishments, she was granted the university’s Torch award, given only to the most exemplary students who show dedicated service to their community.
“The Rhodes is interested in phenomenal people, not just in students with high grades,” said Elise Salem, vice president for Student Development and Enrollment Management, upon hearing of al Masri’s latest achievement. “This is one of my proudest moments at LAU. The Rhodes is the Nobel Prize of student scholarships, and for Diala to become a scholar is beyond words.”
Currently working as a research assistant in economics at Williams College, where she obtained her master’s degree on a Fullbright sholarship, al Masri will move to Oxford in 2017 to pursue a Ph.D. in the subject. “I am a true believer that if you want to have an impact on something that interests you in this world, you have to start with yourself and move steadily from there,” said the soon-to-be Oxford scholar.
Al Masri is one of the first three students from the Levant to win the Rhodes Scholarship for Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine (SJLP), a new award announced in May this year and enabled by the leadership and generosity of the Saïd Foundation. “These outstanding students are representative of the many exceptional young people whose talents, determination, courage and commitment will build a better future for the region,” said Wafic Saïd, founder and chairman of the Saïd Foundation, upon the announcement of the awards.
The new scholars will both enhance and benefit from the additional cultural diversity the scholarship now affords. “Our aspiration is to identify and support innovative, energetic and ethical young leaders globally,” said Charles Conn, Warden and CEO of the Rhodes Trust. “The addition of these new scholars from regions that have an important international role to play in the 21st century marks a substantial step in that direction.”
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