Remembering Sara Khatib
The Sara Khatib Endowment Scholarship Fund has been established for others to continue Sara’s path.
A fund in memory of Sara Khatib, the inspirational LAU fourth-year pharmacy student who died battling cancer in September 2014, has been established to support other students who share her academic determination and positive spirit.
On June 16, LAU held a ceremony at the Byblos campus, greeting Adib and Rolla Khatib and celebrating the institution of the Endowment Scholarship Fund in their daughter’s name.
The guests were welcomed by LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra. “She will continue to be an inspiration and enliven the lives of other students,” he said, adding, “Let’s celebrate her life by signing this agreement.”
The newly instituted fund will distribute the Sara Khatib Inspiration Award, which will be given annually to a particularly noteworthy student. The eligibility criteria include academic excellence, a proven dedication to helping others, and the ability to face a major life-changing obstacle while keeping a positive attitude.
For Sara’s family, the scholarship’s establishment carries a deep meaning. “During her last year, Sara underwent more than five surgeries, chemotherapy and an amputation,” her mother remembers. “Despite all this, she remained positive and decided to work her life around these obstacles rather than let them get in her way.”
“We have decided to establish this fund to recognize those students who reflect Sara’s attitude. Sara’s objective was to graduate with her friends, but her body was weaker than her determination. We hope to grant Sara her wish by making sure she is present every year, in spirit, at the LAU graduation ceremony through the Sara Khatib Inspiration Award,” her mother added.
Sara died two weeks after giving a TEDx talk that will long be remembered by those who witnessed it. “She walked on the stage that day with a sleeveless shirt showing her amputation,” says Elise Salem, vice president for Student Development and Enrollment Management. “She was an incredibly brave woman, never embarrassed to show herself and the signs of her disease.”
The talk, titled “Four Lessons I Learned while Battling Cancer,” was an example of courage that few would expect from a delicate-looking 22-year-old. “You always have the option to smile in spite of your pain and enjoy every second of your life,” Sara said. In her last days, Sara’s remedy to the unbearable pain was to laugh and sing her favorite songs.
In her own life, Sara actively helped others. Shortly before passing away, she established a support group for people with disabilities, as none existed in Lebanon. Her family and friends are now taking her dream forward and turning it into reality with a newly launched NGO called Look Forward. The organization seeks to help youths battling cancer and/or suffering an amputation.
On June 16, a tree was planted in LAU’s Byblos campus in Sara’s memory and a plaque bearing her name was offered to her parents by the Pharmacy students in the presence of Jabbra, Marla Rice-Evans, vice president for University Advancement, Elise Salem and Imad Btaiche, interim dean of the School of Pharmacy. The students also presented Sara’s family a check for $850, destined to support Look Forward.
Afif Ibrahim, a former classmate, remembers Sara’s untamed strive for excellence even in the hardest moments. “Once, she got a mid-seventy and she was so upset with herself. We could not believe that, with all she was going through, she could not only engage in studies, but stay excellent,” he says. “She was a source of inspiration for all of us.”