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How QF's financial support opened up new horizons and dreams for students

Features | 2020-10-24 08:00:58
How QF's financial support opened up new horizons and dreams for students
Through the financial support it provides to talented students from all over the world, Qatar Foundation breaks down barriers that can stand in the way of learning – and the best testament to what it makes possible comes from the aspiring change-makers that it benefits.

The belief that Qatar Foundation (QF) holds in quality education being inclusive and accessible is reflected in the range of financial aid and scholarships packages it offers, via its Student Financial Services department. Over the years, they have helped thousands of young people to define their futures through learning, exploring, and discovering at Education City, and to take huge steps toward realizing their potential.

Among them is Muna Al Masri, a second-year medical student at QF partner university Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), who received a full-tuition QF Merit Scholarship for the 2019-20 academic year. Of Palestinian origin, she set her sights on a career in medicine while at high school in the US, where she was born and raised.

“In 2014, my father began working in Qatar, and my family would fly to Doha every six months to visit him – so it became our second home,” she says. “At one of my father’s work events, I met a WCM-Q student who introduced me to Education City and the various universities at QF, and encouraged me to visit the WCM-Q campus, which I did.”

Al Masri began to develop a “love for the WCM-Q community” and, having succeeded in her application to the university, commenced her studies in its six-year medical program in 2017. She quickly realized where the quality of medical education she was receiving could take her – but the QF scholarship took her academic journey to a new level.

“It was not merely an honor; it signified an investment in my medical studies,” she explained. “This investment has reshaped my perspective on education, meaning I hold myself to higher standards.

“It has lifted a significant financial burden from my family while allowing me the freedom to engage in every leadership position, service trip, or charity event, and I’m confident it will be of great importance in enabling me to attain a match for residency at a prestigious healthcare institution. But most importantly, it has redefined my future career goals, teaching me the importance of giving back to a community that has provided so much to me.”

Although she accepts the path to becoming a doctor is “long and arduous”, Al Masri already has a goal for the future: to return to Qatar and be part of its healthcare system. “I love the idea of employing my healthcare services in the country that provided me with the opportunity to become a doctor,” she said, “and I also hope to help inspire young Muslim girls that, too, can succeed in a career field like mine.

“QF is a truly exceptional organization that drives the development of both individuals and society. During my three years studying at QF, I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of opportunities for personal and professional development, and I could give an endless list of examples of how my QF experience and WCM-Q education have contributed to my development. My time at QF has allowed me to grow into an independent thinker and a citizen of society – it’s ceaselessly helping me to develop into both a physician and a well-rounded individual, and this growth is invaluable for my future endeavors.”

For Ghassan Al Jishi – who is entering the final year of his Mechanical Engineering degree at QF partner university Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) – his Merit Scholarship was another milestone in a journey that has taken him from a refugee camp in Lebanon to Education City.

“During my 12 years in school, I only focused on making my parents proud through education,” says the Palestinian student. “After Grade 10, an organization in Lebanon told me about this university in Qatar called TAMUQ, so I searched for information about it and realized it would be a dream come true if I was able to study at such a prestigious university.”

Receiving a scholarship from QF during his time at TAMUQ has removed financial obstacles that could otherwise have prevented Al Jishi’s engineering talent from coming to fruition. “If I rank the most important things that have happened in my life, my family would be first, but this scholarship would be second,” he says. “After I received it, I started to think of myself as having my own story; before then, everything that I am living now seemed impossible.”

This includes a service learning trip to Laos to help build houses in a village, becoming president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers chapter at TAMUQ, and co-founding the Palestinian Cultural Club in Qatar. “During the past three years, my personality has grown more than in any time before, as I always feel thirsty and eager to do more in both my present and my future,” Al Jishi says.

Throughout their time at Education City, QF Student Financial Services provides continuous support and information to those its scholarships and aid packages benefit, right up to their graduation – with, this year, the necessary sessions being held virtually to ensure students’ safety while also making them aware of details and obligations.

Studying computer science at QF partner university Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) would have been out of the financial reach of Hanaa Farooq Moazam had she not been awarded financial aid from QF across her four years at the university, from which she graduated this year and where she is now a research assistant.

Born in Pakistan but calling Doha home since the age of nine, she became drawn to computer science while at school and set her heart on studying at CMU-Q, but says: “I would not have been able to afford to study there without financial support.

“It was very rewarding for me to receive a scholarship that acknowledges the hard work I had done throughout my school years. Not having to worry about finances was a blessing, as I could focus entirely on my studies, and the opportunities and experiences I’ve had over the past four years have contributed to my growth as a person.”

The member of CMU-Q’s Class of 2020 is now looking to repay this faith in her through her skills, with her research being focused on understanding and developing new technologies for supporting learning – something her participation in a university project which saw students teach computer skills to Rwandan primary school teachers has galvanized her to pursue.

Meanwhile, for Daniah Farooq – who is Pakistani by origin but born and brought up in Qatar – the experience of studying at QF nearly didn’t happen. A sense of self-doubt meant she only applied to its partner university Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) on the very last day possible, and she admits she wasn’t expecting to get an offer. 

Instead, having passed an interview and writing exam, she was accepted and “a door was unlocked that encouraged me to recognize my true potential”. Not only that, she received a Merit-Based Scholarship from QF for her sophomore year, after winning her personal race against time.

“From the start of my journey at VCUarts Qatar, financing my studies was a huge concern, and if I was to complete my degree in Art History, I had to earn a scholarship by the end of the first year,” she said. “I knew from the beginning that I had a year to prove myself.
“But I believe I can achieve what I am to achieve to through sheer hard work, strong will, and dedication. And I did it.”

Farooq went on to graduate with honors in 2020, with every item on her “wish-list” being ticked off along the way. “The scholarship was a must if I was to complete my degree, and I am so proud that I achieved it and maintained it to the very end,” she explained. “Even if the road was bumpy, I felt like a Ferrari!
“Studying at QF has equipped me with all the skills necessary to meet real-life challenges. It offered me all sorts of opportunities to enhance my knowledge, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, and I studied among a diverse group of people and learned something from each one of them.

“One important lesson I learned during my journey at VCUarts Qatar is that we are unstoppable until the time we believe we are stoppable. With everything I’ve gained from my time there, I’m ready to achieve new milestones and set myself higher ambitions.”

For more information about Student Financial Services, click HERE

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