Abd Elmoumen DRICI

Abd Elmoumen DRICI

From: Algeria

Age: 22 Years

Activity: Computer Science

My Name is Abd Elmoumen Drici and I am currently a  fourth-year Computer Science student at Djilali Lyabes University ( 1st master ),  which is a well-known university located in The state of Sidi-Bel-Abbes in Algeria. passionate about IT and Computer science, Networking, Operating systems, and other IT topics and technologies.

I spent the last six years volunteering in my community, I was part of 2 local charitable communities in my city,  we were providing help for the poor people, and incapable people, giving them that smile of hope for the seek to make the community progress. 

It was really a great experience for me and the whole team, the feeling of being part of the change it’s just amazing, it’s really unbelievable.

As a student I was organizing events in our campus with my colleagues, teaching new technologies, doing workshops in our scientific clubs and I gained a lot of experience in the field. That gives me the push to up  forward in the field and  love it more.

My passion for the IT field was from when I was young, messing with my father’s computer, creating bugs and trying to fix it.

I love the compilation of creative and problem-solving skills, and how there’s always more to learn.

The next few years will be very interesting and exciting. because I am very excited to graduate from my university, and forward in my professional and personal career.

The summer of 2020 under the circumstances of Covid-19 was very special and stressful, to overpass all those circumstances me and my friend “Adel Boukli” decided to create an environmental group to solve the environmental problems in our city and to promote a culture of environmental conservation and awareness of cleanliness, we gave it the name of “Beni saf clean”, 5 months later we organized more than 15 cleaning operations locally and with collaboration with other environmental associations in different places in the city. and we are already in progress with our amazing volunteers. 

One of my most important goals of success is serving my community and helping people who need it, giving them hope, spreading positivity and knowledge.. 

Cynthia Fata

Cynthia Fata

From: Lebanon

Age: 21 Years

Activity: Electrical Engineering Student at Saint Joseph University

I am Cynthia Fata from Lebanon. I am 21 years old and a 4th year electrical engineering student at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. My passion in math and physics started at the age of 16, that was the time when I decided that I wanted to persue my education in the engineering field. I heard many negative comments like “you are a girl, do something easier”, “engineering is for boys only” and many more negative comments that made me more sure of myself that engineering is the road I will follow at that time. Today I became one of many “women” electrical engineering students who refused to abide by the traditions of society and are willing to inspire many young girls to persue their degree in electrrical engineering.

It has been more than 30 years since Lebanon has no electricity 24/7, knowing that it is a country blessed with an abundance of water, wind and sun which can help in creating renewable and clean energy. The corrupted political system destroyed every sector of this country and stole all the resources from it, even when it comes to electricity, the country has accumulated many billions of dollars in debt and till now we still have no electricity 24/7. But change is coming, and this generation will rebuild this country, and I will use my knowledge to help make a change in the electricity of Lebanon.

Elissa Sannan

Elissa Sannan

From: Lebanon

Age: 20 Years

Activity: Student majoring in International Business Management

Let me introduce myself, my name is Elissa Sannan and I am twenty years old. Born and raised in Lebanon and currently living in Beirut, I am a full time student worker which is something very common especially here. However what differs me from the others is that I did not feel the financial need to find employment at first, so here’s what happened. 

I was 17 years old, just graduated senior high from a prestigious French school located at the heart of the capital, when I was offered a position as a telecom agent in a hotel by a family member, and the coming decision was a turning point in my life.  Back then, I was a teenager defined by her country and by her family and was always taught to be grateful for everything. At the time, Lebanon was one the most indebted countries in the world with a very high unemployment rate, but don’t get me wrong, now the situation is way worse which made me proud of myself for starting a career at young age in the first place. 

So here I was, offered a job at age seventeen from one of the best hotels in the country with a good salary and I thought to myself “who am I to turn down an opportunity given to me so easily while others are struggling to reach it?” and I felt ungrateful just by thinking of not taking it. So I held onto this job and I’m glad I did.  However it was not the easiest thing to balance a career and college since I was imposed an inflexible schedule conflicting with work and could not physically attend all the classes resulting me into getting delayed a year, dropping out of this particular university and signing up to a more compromising one, then shifted from Hospitality management to International Business Management. But to me both my degree and my job were of the same importance and I did not start something just to end it without trying harder. After that I planned out my whole educational path.

Other than having a personal income, I am grateful for this step I took because I unlocked a new level back then when I learned things you don’t acquire anywhere else, I gained experience with people I became a stronger person, I turned into someone with high self-esteem and confidence and I love it. Even the bad traits about myself, I learned how to put them into good use and benefit from them.

One year on I was promoted to receptionist but quit a year later after the country kept going downhill. Except that, despite the numerous drastic events this year has taken me through, it was a game changer for me personally. 

How I managed to go through every bad occurrence this year, goes down to one sentence I repeat each time I feel like I’m in a dark place: “everything is only a phase, and each one ends sooner or later. So I either let it get the best of me or I can choose to make the best out of it”. And I started to believe that good can come in many shapes even in the bad ones. I learned to take the good aspect from any bad situation and invest in it, because it is not only about what life has gave me but how I received it, how I decided to interpret it and how I chose to share it. I’m nowhere near optimism. I consider myself to be realistic while hoping for best and it is working from me.

For example, I took the pandemic and turned it into a break from worrying about managing two schedules since everything is online I found a way to study and work at the same time while also being able to take care of myself.

I took the Beirut blast on the 4th of August 2020 and made myself a survivor who was granted a second chance, changing my thinking towards my choices, wanting to give as much as I get and more and trying to give back to the people who lost so much that day. Since then I have been feeling the need to give support to anyone who needs it, contributing to a better society because even by one gesture as simple as it is you can make someone feel better about everything around him.

3 years ago I was a teenager working for fun and who was defined by her society, by her family and by the country’s circumstances, now I am a young lady who’s still studying while on the way of finishing an internship with the United Nations to gain experience, expanding my limits in order to keep growing, because these now define me: my wiliness to keep developing and my own choices for a better future.

Emran Tahboub

Emran Tahboub

From: Amman, Jordan

Age: 20 Years

Activity: Software Engineering

I’m a person who is ambitious by having the courage to dream, while having the drive and determination to keep going no matter what.  Also a person who is patient, loyal and honest which makes me take the full responsibility for my actions. My ambitions is to live a life that I’m proud of by improving my skills and mastering the things I like during my early adulthood because we all know how time flies, Just get the most of it.  And that is the main drive that makes me keep exploring.

I’ve had a bumpy ride so far that had some ups and downs; however, a full load of lessons along the path. One of the remarkable challenges I’ve had was failing my high school year, at first I thought it was a setback but then I realized it was only a step just before success. All I needed was the courage to take that step. 

I am most proud of the fact that I’m pursuing multiple International Software Engineering degrees. Growing up, I was surrounded by hard working family members which gave me all this extra  desire to continue to grow and achieve more. I think the best way of planning for the future is to make the most of the present simply by improving each day. My goal now is to focus on my hobbies and things I have interests in like learning German, horsemanship and improving my musical skills. My hopes for the future are simple, such as financial stability, personal satisfaction and career passion.

It always brings me joy to motivate others, just by being a small factor in someone’s success.  Although Jordan is an amazing country but it has its negative, hindering factors. Mainly the lack of drive of social motivation for betterment. And lack of skills due to poor training and education. 

Gabrielle Ayoub

Gabrielle Ayoub

From: Lebanon

Age: 24 Years

Activity: counselor / masters student in clinical psychology

My name is Gabrielle Ayoub, and I’m a clinical psychologist from a small country in the Middle-East called Lebanon.

I would say that I’m a rather introverted person. My social circle can pretty much fit in one small room, but those people are everything to me. This is going to sound cheesy, but I wouldn’t have come this far without the love and support of my friends and family. They truly believe in me.

 I’m very passionate about everything I do, I’m a perfectionist, I’m stubborn, and I worry a lot about people I love; those traits can serve me well at times, but they’re also bad habits that feed my anxiety. Oh well, nobody’s perfect…

However, I don’t think that enumerating my personality traits fully discloses who I am as a person; I feel that it’s important to talk about my hobbies because they’re a big part of my life. 

Almost everything I enjoy involves a comfy couch and some hot chocolate. My comfort zone would be sitting at home, in which I’d write my poems, binge watch my favorite TV shows, listen to good old rock songs, and play some soothing sounds on my classical guitar.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some quiet “me” time, but sometimes I like to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. I love taking risks; activities like hiking, caving and zip-line keep the child in me alive.

As I said before, I’m a very passionate person and I give full commitment to what I do. Yes, it can be tiring but it’s also very rewarding, especially in my field.

Lebanon has some really good universities, and I feel lucky to have had this experience; I’ve met some wise professors whom I’d say are my role models, they’ve been really helpful and answered all of my questions without hesitation – I’m a bit of a talker so I’m impressed with their patience, lol.

I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. Funny story: I chose this major because of the TV show Criminal Minds. I’ve always wanted to analyze criminals’ motives and understand why they would commit such misconducts.

However, my goal of becoming a criminal psychologist shifted after a tragic event that had occurred on August 4th, 2020, in my home town Beirut: a chemical explosion resulting in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injured, and some people missing till this day.

My country needed immediate psychological interventions, so I decided to complete a training in Psychological First Aid to be as efficient as possible during this time of crisis. I’ve also completed a training in Narrative Exposure Therapy to treat complex trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, which I am now practicing as a volunteer. This is when I decided to become a trauma-focused therapist for the long haul.

Aside from the volunteer work, I try my best to contribute to society by raising awareness on mental health on my psychology page “Gaby Says”, and by organizing psycho-educational webinars every now and then.

In spite of my accomplishments, I’m still a long way from attaining my social and professional goals. These past few years have been hard on me, which is slowing down the process: my country has been facing a terrible economic crisis for almost two years, which has been quite a nightmare for the working class. A lot of people have lost their jobs or have had their salaries cut in half, resulting in several protests to fight against corruption. Many citizens have or are planning to flee the country, including some of my closest friends. I don’t know where I will be 5 years from now, but what I do know is that I’ll try my best to fight for my home.

My journey isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but whose is? I will leave you with this quote by Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

Haya

Haya Shmaitilly 

From: Beirut, Lebanon

Age: 21 Years

Activity: Third year Pharmacy student 

If there’s only one thing that I’m allowed to hold on to for the rest of my life and never let go of, it would be hope. I’m a pharmacy student whose admiration to the major of study and the profession is growing everyday. In just 3 years, I became extremely attached to the medical field, the secrets it holds and the relationships it builds every single day. I’m also a tasked-oriented person who loves to get things done perfectly.

 You’re probably questioning yourself on why I chose to hold hope and not a nutella jar, and that’s because I believe that hope is what makes us survive the adventures and challenge ourselves. I live in a country that is growing upside down, moving back in time instead of moving forward. It’s been a year since corruption has taken over it completely. Waking up every morning with nothing but bad and sad news, you really can’t bear staying in the country an extra day if you don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. This is not only my situation, but the situation of almost all the youth of Lebanon who are dreamers and…brains, literally! However, I’m staying in Lebanon because it’s bleeding. It needs to be saved first, and I think that us, the youth, with the knowledge and skills we’re backed up with, are the ones who can get the country out of this mess, yet all we need is an opportunity, a space to grow comfortably in, in order to act and get things done like they should have a long time ago. 

Despite the achievements, in the medical field, that are getting reported every month, there are some gaps that could be filled to provide optimum healthcare services to the community. It is time for the outdated methods and strategies to be changed and evolved, as technology has become our co-worker today. Also, it is important to shed light on the value of adequate communication and proper documentation which when implemented, would ease the work and lessen the medical problems encountered regularly. In a country like mine, you can’t just set a goal and keep it fixed, but I can confidently say that no matter how things get twisted, creating a safe and healthy community will always be my priority. I want people to trust the healthcare professionals and share their feelings and thoughts with them. I want to sense a real collaboration between the members of the healthcare team. I also dream of seeing women in decision-making positions related to the health system, leading professional unions, orders and ministries like the Ministry of Public Health for example. Finally, I hope to see a decentralized health system that is accessible to everyone, uniformly serves the community with no discrimination, and most importantly be free of charge!

I’m still in the beginning of my journey, and I’m proud of the baby steps I took until this day. I thank God for the support I get from my family, the nice people surrounding me, and the respect they have for me. I’m also thankful for my bigger family at the school of pharmacy, lead by Dean Prof. Lakany who believes in my potentials and never deprives me from his advice and wisdom. 

With that being said, all we have to do is continue with what we have started, and see where time would take us. See you in a few years, I guess! 

Husam Adel Rajab

Husam Adel Rajab

From: Palestine 

Age: 23 Years

Activity: Technical support engineer 

Hello, everyone reading this story I hope you are having a great day, I am Husam Adel Rajab my major is electronics and communication engineering. I love Technology and Sustainability in my point of view they are one of the most important things on our planet, Without sustainability, the resources of our planet will vanish and without technology, these resources will not be used sustainably. I love writing poems, reading and music but when I was a kid I was afraid of talking to people or even to make a simple presentation which affected my childhood moreover my mother had cancer and as a kid, it was very hard for me to overcome these problems but I started to take responsibility since I was a kid I took care of my mother and my school then after months she Recovered but I had the same problem of talking to the public and giving a presentation, so my mother took one of my poems with her and she took me with her to an event and gave me the poem and told me to read it in front of everyone and I did it and everyone was happy and applauding this is how I overcame the fear of public speaks. I dream every night of myself standing in front of people telling them my story so let me tell you one of my goals I want to have the most known smart company in the world by smart I mean smart systems, homes and farms. I want to leave a mark in technology so the world knows me so I applied for electronics and communication major in the university 5 years ago and I was focusing on my studies but I kept dreaming of being known in technology market so I went to England to know more about intelligent electronic machines and devices and the year after I went to California to know more about robotics and technology then I had the chance to mix sustainability with technology in my graduation project so I made smart greenhouse from scratch. But after I graduated I started to apply for jobs and it did not go as planned I have been rejected from several companies because I did not meet nationality requirements as I am living in Egypt but I am Palestinian so it is not easy to work as a foreigner. But I kept trying and got rejected many times then I had the chance to apply for an internship with one of the leaders of technology companies and I got accepted then I applied for a job and got accepted with the same company. I wish I can change the world to a better place by giving people hope by giving them smart sustainable solutions for today problems to help to manage earth resources.

Thank you for your time reading my story and I hope for everyone to have a great future.

Joanna Jleilaty

 Joanna Jleilaty

From: Beirut, Lebanon

Age: 23 Years

Activity: Expert in Eating Behaviors and Disorders

My name is Joanna. I am a teenage girl who had her own battles with an eating disorder, a young adult who committed fiercely to treatment and a warrior who has successfully recovered and claimed her life back. 

Today I am an expert in eating behaviors and disorders. Combining both  psychotherapy and coaching, I work on treating disruptive eating behaviors  (eating disorders and disordered eating) to help individuals discover the  freedom and beauty of recovery, just as I did.  

Having emerged on the other side – one that needs me to make an impact – my  mission is to use my professional knowledge and past personal struggles with  an eating disorder to assist, help and guide individuals who might need it most  through individual therapy sessions. 

I am passionate about helping individuals heal their relationship with food, their  bodies and themselves. 

I am also enthusiastic by nature and thirsty for life… for living life. You will  probably find me thriving in my job, giving it my best, committing hard to  achieve my goals, motivating and helping people to release the best versions of  themselves… And behind the spotlights, you can also see me investing in and nurturing myself in any possible way: whether it comes to strengthening my 

professional knowledge, taking a short break, relaxing and pampering myself or  grabbing opportunities just like this one in which I was invited to write to you. 

So far, I can only be grateful to the great doors that have opened for me and laid  the groundwork to pursue my mission and reach more people.  

I have, of course, encountered many challenges mainly those related to the  stigmatized subjects in our Eastern culture. Opening up about my personal  history with an eating disorder has not been an easy task… But with the  unexpected support from people and the massive messages I received in which  many related to having a similar experience, I was able to raise my voice safely. 

I realized how many people were neglected because of the taboos in our society.  It opened my eyes to the importance of educating and providing the necessary  treatment for those who are struggling with eating disorders in silence. 

And here it all began. I only aimed for one destination: change. 

I first began to change in myself, recognizing that I had to endure “change” on  my own to encourage people to follow this new trend: the trend of not being ashamed of one’s mental health issues. 

I changed my perception of the eating disorder that accompanied me during my  teenage years. I didn’t hide it anymore, I didn’t force myself into finding  alternative “nicer” words to describe it. I expressed reality as it is and how things  really are in the life of someone struggling with an eating disorder. I changed my  attitude. I changed my responsiveness in discussions about mental health: I was  no longer on the passive side on the reactive one. 

And over time, I was able to gain people’s trust by normalizing eating disorders and setting this example as the new lead, making it safe enough for people to contact me for any random reason, reassuring that it’s okay not to be okay, and facilitating help and advice so that they can turn their pain into power.

Joewey

Joewey Ann Semaan

From: Lebanon

Age: 26 Years

Activity: Emergency Response to the Beirut Blast; Co-Founder – Walk To Success; Clinical Psychologist – Trauma focused

My name is Joewey, I was raised in a town in Mount Lebanon, where I then moved to Sydney for most of my high school education. I came back to Lebanon for my last year of high school and then enrolled in the Lebanese American University, where I received my BA in General Psychology and studied a minor in business. A couple of years later, I continued my studies at the Lebanese University where I received a Professional Masters in Clinical Psychology. My work experience began in the support I was giving to my family’s SME in Clothes and Accessories retail store that has been running for the past 27 years. The experience you receive from running a family-owned business, I believe to this day, is the widest experience you can gain where you are able to entrain on all aspects of smooth trade including covering finances, stock, customer service, marketing…etc. 

My love for work allowed me to pursue part time jobs ever since I was a high school student, including being a waitress, a salesgirl at a cellphone store, a support accountant, an HR personnel, a co-founder for a contracting and interior design company…and many many more. 

I stumbled into NGOs during my BA years, where I moved from being a volunteer to becoming the head psychologist and national coordinator at Nusroto – Prison Fellowship Lebanon, where we coordinated programs and interventions for Prison Fellowship International in all prisons all over Lebanon. Eventually I was designing and implementing programs for prisoners, drug rehabilitation centers, mental health groups, and many more. 

A couple of years back, I co-founded Walk to Success which is a mental-health based platform designed for specialized therapy interventions, and a consultancy firm aimed at all types of businesses where we advise and support in all types of businesses on all levels, including design, staff training, marketing strategies, business strategies…etc. Both co-founders are body language experts, solution-focused therapists, and have an emphasis on evidence-based interventions especially neuroscience. 

Currently, I am also the project manager at an INGO, managing an Emergency Response Project to the Beirut Blast, and a clinical psychologist focusing on Trauma resolution using a variety of neuroscientific techniques. 

The humanitarian field is one of the most vital fields to incoporate yourself in, where you try to plan and organize all your interventions in a way that maximize help to the community and efficiently benefit from all donor grants. 

Given the on-going detoriating socio-economic situation in the country, all are efforts are aimed at the long-term outcome of decrease unemployment and increasing sufficient use of human resources in Lebanon, to reach a stable country that will be a destination for people all over the world to come and work and thrive in. 

Léa HADDAD

Léa Haddad

From: Lebanon

Age: 20 Years

Activity: Bachelor in Marketing and Advertising 

To start, I am a person who loves life and enjoys the little things. I am friendly and optimistic, and I always see life from a positive angle. I graduated from school with a french baccalaureate in economics and social science and I decided right after to discover the field of Marketing and Advertising which is something I am passionate about. I am looking forward to deepen my knowledge in this field and especially on the digital side.

In this world where technology is evolving everyday, I am keen to know what the future of business will look like. I often remind myself that in the word “impossible” there is “possible” and that motivates me to work on myself even more to achieve what I always wanted to achieve. Life is too short to do things you don’t like. We should live the life we have always dreamed of. We only live once.  Very often, when I see people succeed in life by working hard, I always say to myself that if they were able to do it then I can do it. The key is to never give up.

I’m still in the beginning of my journey, I did 2 internships in my life where I was able to familiarize myself with the professional work environment. I experienced good but challenging times where I learned to be independent and get out of my comfort zone. I projected myself in things I didn’t knew how to manage or even apply in real time, and I was given responsibilities that pushed me to take risks. Staying in our comfort zone means not evolving and never experiencing new things. I also faced some situations I wasn’t able to control. For instance, controlling and trying to calm angry customers, which is not easy. Therefore I decided to learn about emotional intelligence which is something really important to understand the customer’s behavior and that is helpful in our everyday life too. Today when I project myself back to these times, I realize that I could have behaved differently with the clients, with more confidence. 

Knowing that I am living in Lebanon, everyday is a challenge. The country is witnessing one of its worst time of history. We are in the middle of an economic crisis with more than 50% of the population below the poverty line, unemployment is increasing everyday and we have the third biggest inflation in the world. Adding to that, the Beirut port explosion that happened on the 4th of August 2020 made everything worse. Today, finding an internship or a job position is really hard because a lot of businesses are closing. So basically, staying in my country, gaining experience and working here during the next years will be challenging. But I believe in my country and I believe in change for the better. Lebanon will rise again.

I have achieved things in my life I’m really proud of. Whether it is in my personal or professional life. First, one of my hobbies are volunteering. I love helping people and bringing them joy into their life. I was also able to earn certificates from some NGOs. Doing this type of activity makes me feel I have achieved something. I am satisfied. Moreover, I earned an online certificate from Coursera about creative thinking. I believe that creativity is the solution for a lot of problems in the world. I also have my internship certificates and my baccalaureate certificate. My next goal is to graduate and earn my bachelor degree. Then, I look forward to work on my Masters degree in digital marketing and communication.

As a social person, I would love to work in the communication side of Marketing in big companies that I love. Which means everything related to social media, influencer marketing, events management and advertising.

 My ultimate goal in life is to have my own company. I would love to share my vision to the world and build awareness on things we are taking for granted and not enough aware of. For example climate change, animal abuse or even school harassment and bullying. I think the majority of people are only taking care and focusing on themselves without giving enough importance to other things around them.

Mohammad Albdour

Mohammad Albdour

From: Amman, Jordan

Age: 24 Years

Activity: Computer Science Student

Mohammad Albdour, as known as Mj, is a curious, dedicated software engineer that appreciates the art of design and architecture of modern software solutions.

Surprisingly, started as a mechanical engineering student at the German Jordanian University, two years after, at a random meeting with his geeky friends, struck a flame of knowledge for how the internet and web applications work. Basically, led to his major switch to a Bachelor in Computer Science. It is something he thought about endlessly and couldn’t ignore, that ultimately led to a path change towards software engineering.

The lack of Ivy league schools in his home country such as Stanford, MIT or Harvard didn’t discourage him from gaining the knowledge and skills he needs to succeed in the tech industry, such as working with tech giants; Google, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, etc…

His greatest achievement so far is designing and implementing a niche and custom invoicing system for small to medium businesses in Jordan that operate daily on physical product distribution, specifically confectionery foods. Actually, it’s his graduation project which he worked on almost every day to make sure it solves the problems in hand and satisfies the needs of this type of businesses. *The source code is available publicly on his GitHub account.

He truly believes that good software engineering can be a major force to build a better world and that’s what drives him every day. He spends quite some time learning then implementing clean-coded software such as cross-platform applications which support Android, iOS and the web. He is able to achieve this with the help of amazing software development technologies engineered and delivered by smart and caring engineers at Google. Hint: He aspires to work there in the future!

His favorite programming languages are Dart & Golang. Favorite software development kit is Flutter.

He also enjoys experimenting with google cloud and learning how to use it from time to time.

Mariane El Khoury

Mariane El Khoury

From: Lebanon

Age: 21 Years

Activity: Clinical and Pathological Psychologist Master’s student 

As a graduate student who’s earned her bachelor’s degree and is currently studying for her master’s degree at USJ, I am interested in the field of work After undergoing many trainings as well as some field expertise, I am an assistant psychologist in a private Clinic, I am also a support psychologist at Saint Gerios School in which I observe, detect and refer cases. 

On top of that, I am a member of the FCLL and I attend most of the seminars, conference and workshops they provide. Recently, I registered as a new member of an undergoing research at USJ concerning PTSD. In addition, I am a member of the Mental Health club founded in Usj as well as gender and sexuality club.

I’m 21 years old, proud and happy to be a woman. Fluent in 3 languages French English and Arabic I am skilled in communication, active listening, project management, public speaking and leadership.

I think fighting discrimination, gender inequality and gender stereotypes makes the world a better place. Its challenging being a woman in this male dominated world, the seemingly never-ending gender-based discrimination and violence against women, the lack of education and representation and all the other social and economic inequalities that women face every day have dire effects on their mental health. It is everyone’s duty to do everything in our power to put an end to this ongoing cycle of inequality and violence against women, and this begins by educating ourselves, by reshaping the way we think, the way we view and treat women.

Maryse Abi Haidar

Maryse Abi Haidar

From: Baskinta, Lebanon

Age: 21 Years

Activity: I am currently a senior at the Lebanese American University majoring in Banking and Finance with a minor in Economics. I will be pursuing my master’s degree next year in Investment Finance. 

If my life was a book, I would call it; A Girl Trying Life, comprising 21 chapters so far. Let me walk you through my journey highlighting three main stops; achievements, struggles and goals. In a country of 10,452 km2, opportunities hovers around like feathers in a blast, you learn how to catch them among all the other creatures and chaos present there. My name is Maryse Abi Haidar, I grew in a peaceful Lebanese village in the mountains, in the midst of greeneries and birds singing. I live by learning to adapt to this life’s surprises, ups and downs. 

The first 16 chapters, prior to 2016, my life was as boring as watching paint dry, but it all changed once I decided to embark on a journey that I knew will change my life forever and that’s when I was chosen to be an ambassador for the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program in Wisconsin, USA. I decided to take on the responsibility of representing my country and its culture. I decided to leave my family and friends in Lebanon to meet my new family and friends in the states. My stay in Wisconsin lasted for only ten months. Ten months of pure discovery, challenges and experiences; I stepped out of my comfort zone by joining sports teams and volunteering over 400 hours. Traveling back to Lebanon in a 14-hours flight, I remember writing in my journal “I have found my purpose, I want to be happy and make other people happy. I want to be successful and help other people succeed”. That 17-year-old girl knew it all. Combating my reverse culture shock and my homesickness for the next year, I, just like any other teenager in Lebanon, struggled to find my path in life, struggled to find my true passion and life long mission. I am the type of person who likes to walk the walk and take action in my life. I had to find myself a career that has a future in my country and that would meet my expectations, but I never realized that I should find myself a career that makes me happy and meet my ambitions. Chapter 18 chose me a career that I never saw myself in; Finance and Economics. I was accepted to the Lebanese American University through the University Scholarship Program (USP-USAID). During this chapter of my life, I joined Rotaract as a guest and later on as the head of the Community Service Committee and then Vice President. Helping and serving the community helped me better understand that when we are passionate and driven, we are powerful enough to move from hesitation and reluctance to action and service. Chapters 18 and 19 were marked with so many successes and achievements; I was listed on the high distinction list and I won the USP Excellence Award where students were evaluated based on their commitment and dedication, service to community, impact and innovation. However, I was always frustrated and stressed about my major, do I really want to spend my whole life working in a bank? In a company for other people? It was then when I truly understood that we are the authors of our own lives and that our time is limited, so really, why would I spend it living someone else’s life, trapped in other people’s views and opinions? It all hit me during Chapter 20, the hardest yet the most rewarding. Who would’ve thought a pandemic would take over us all of a sudden, locking us into our homes and minds, depriving us from seeing and experiencing the outer world. In the core of this chaos, I looked at life as a time to experience new things, a time to get away from the same everyday routine and take advantage of the time we have left on earth. That is why, I challenged myself to enhance my soft and hard skills by embarking on a digital journey to learn. I took more than 60 courses online to enhance my professional knowledge in different areas. Life was never easy, rather, it was always complicated, we are in no place to let the pandemic stops us from waking up everyday, getting that workout done, making sure we are mentally healthy (this always comes first) and then taking over our businesses and dreams. 

Being a trainer in LAU’s simulation programs, I discovered my passion for training and helping people around me, that is why I decided to take on a full mission of helping and empowering the youth through giving them essential trainings like the Power of Emotional Intelligence. They really need to learn how to cope and manage through today’s hardships especially after the heartbreaking Beirut blast that affected us all mentally and physically. I finished my 20th Chapter by joining the LEBWOX fellowship with CREO Incubator, we learnt more about entrepreneurship and its elements. This experience truly changed how I view the business world, it was indeed a life changing experience that I would forever be grateful for. I decided to challenge myself and take a step further to help my country by working on my startup business; WhaleTrade (Instagram: @whale_trade). Through extensive market study and research, I knew exactly that Lebanon needs tremendous help in its financial sector, that is why I am currently working on this startup idea that I hope will grow and be of benefit to my country (and every other country) and people.

The Beirut blast on August fourth, 2020 and the economic crisis in Lebanon left us all speechless, it was challenging and hard on me to see the people of my country suffering and losing hope. I had no choice but to take a deep breath, reflect on that hard period and then keep moving. We are stronger by empowering each other and by standing by each other, that is why I have cultivated a huge interest in community service and volunteering. I always make sure to turn my challenges and hardships to opportunities and new beginnings. 

I often get the question, what motivates you to do so many activities at once? How do you have enough time to do all these? And I reply with one simple sentence; love what you’re doing and you’ll have more than enough time to do all of them. Dedication, discipline and commitment are needed in order to succeed but passion is the secret ingredient to success and without it you can never call it a real victory. 

My moto in life is that if “there’s a will, there’s a way”, which pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me change my lifestyle and do things that I never thought of doing. I have lived each day following the same principle; do not let time control you, control time because time if harshly used can lead you and your dreams to the grave without accomplishing any of them. In this universe, there are so many people living miserable lives or within unhappy circumstances, yet, no one takes the initiative to change their own situation, so, my advice for everyone reading this is; detach yourself from conformity, conservity and routine and trust me, you will find your purpose and happiness at the end of the road.

Every one of us (or at least most of us) aims at making this world a better place. In fact, change comes from within, by being the change we want to see and by improving ourselves and our surroundings step by step. I aim to empower everyone around me, spread the concept of self-confidence and self-growth, teach the youth how to better believe in themselves and most importantly, to extend the knowledge of inner peace and tranquility of the mind. Whenever thinking about the future, I often get the following statement “Maryse dear, you’re Lebanese, do not think about the future, never. Think instead how you’re going to survive this day without too many hardships.” But then, I remember that truly, we are Lebanese, and that is why we are resilient, we are ambitious, and we are capable into turning our sorrows into miracles. Having a perspective into the future is a powerful tool that helps me keep moving without giving up. I hope that my future will be backed by me doing everything that makes me happy and joyful and since everyone of us has a unique future, it is up to us to decide what to do with it, to let it stand out. I personally see my future as a time and place to reflect on my successes, achievements and failures as well. I want peace for my country and compassion, I want to keep learning how to cultivate inner happiness and I also aspire to leave an impact on other people, empower them and help them rise as well. But, at the moment, I aspire to work and excel so that my future self will be thankful for what I have done and become.

Maya Sabbah

Maya Sabbah

From: Lebanon

Age: 26 Years

Activity: I am a Media Planner at one of the biggest advertising companies in the world. 

Let me first start by introducing myself, my name is Maya Sabbah I am 26 and I am a Media Planner at one of the biggest advertising companies in the world. 

I studied mass communication and graduated from a humble university in Beirut. 

Back in 2016 I was one of the few people who landed their first job right after graduating and I had a good job, but I was still new to the workplace and couldn’t handle a stressful job for long.

I ended up quitting and kept jumping from one job to another until one day I was unable to find a job. Once a very busy lady I became unemployed for almost a year. 

It wasn’t completely my fault I kept saying to myself, the economy was bad and there was not a lot of job offers in my field on study. 

I was faced with 2 options, either I keep waiting for I don’t know what or I accept the next job offer what ever it was. What do you think happened? 

Well, I accepted the next job offer I got, and it was a membership advisor at reputed health club. Although very far from my marketing interest it was a life changing decision, by waking up early every day, exercising and showing discipline to a job that pays my bills I broke my ego and became more determined than ever to work on myself and learn as much as I can to land my dream job. 

And it’s safe to say that whatever I did back then worked! The hard work and dedication led me to who I am today (a better version of my past self). 

Today, my country Lebanon, is facing many challenges, but with every challenging situation is an opportunity for growth. Some multinational companies still invest in offices in Beirut and if you ask me why they want to operate in an uncertain area, I would say that it’s not the area that they are investing in, but it’s people. 

I am proud to be part of the Lebanese community that is determined to rise despite all the struggles and difficulties, I met a lot of people that are always eager to help and show great passion in what they do, these are the people that inspire me to do the same.

Nagham Bou Daher

Nagham Bou Daher

From: Lebanon

Age: 21 Years

Activity:  Industrial Engineer (planned to graduate in 2021), incoming Consultant at Kearney

I was born and raised in Lebanon, with a sense of resilience and strength only the Lebanese inherit. In school, I was actively participating in a diverse portfolio of activities, such as the Model United Nations workshops, communication and leadership trainings, Fabriano art competitions,  national piano competitions, and math and science fairs. I loved almost every school subject, and was interested in any topic I learned about. That’s when I realized what I loved to do: I loved to learn. Aside from the arts and sciences, I found within me the love of volunteering and social impact. In my senior high school year, at only 17 years old, I started volunteering with All Girls Code, an award-winning non-profit initiative that aims to encourage women to pursue careers and studies in STEM fields.

In 2017, I joined the American University of Beirut as an Industrial Engineering student, where this major choice perfectly fit my love to study diverse topics under the umbrella of optimization and efficiency. In parallel, I was promoted into a full-time team member at All Girls Code, later to become the Executive Team Leader and the Development Advisor at the organization. I did not limit myself to my position’s title; If any help was needed, I was always eager to provide it. Majoring in STEM as a woman in the Middle East required more than just the merit, as I was faced by societal dissent whenever the topic was brought up. For that very reason, I strongly supported All Girls Code and whole-heartedly worked for the de-stigmatization of women in STEM. Thanks to the support of this network, I was able to expand their existing community of members by over 200%.

When the global pandemic hit in 2020, Lebanon had already been suffering a myriad of disasters, such as the wildfires that have erupted over Mount Lebanon, increased taxes, inflation, and the local currency devaluation. The country was hit by an economic and health crisis like no other. The national protests had already disrupted our normal everyday lives. My daily life was far from that of the average college student. Almost every morning, at 7 AM, I was volunteering at the protest site in Downtown, where I helped clean the site and organize the garbage into recyclable categories with Live Love Recycle. I then went back home, attended classes, studied, and did everything that had to be done. On afternoons, I protested on the streets with the people demanding a fair and just life in Lebanon.

During that summer, I was set to complete an internship at Kearney, a leading global consulting company with its Middle East headquarters in Dubai. Due to travel restrictions, I had to complete this internship virtually from home. The unstable internet connection was not the only unstable matter in Lebanon. I was staffed on a project with the majority of the team being located in Dubai, and had to work from home. I worked hard to do exactly what I love : to learn. I proved to be a valuable asset to the team, and learned and learned and learned. During the final week, I was set to prepare and present about the experience I’ve gained there twice, once as a requirement for my undergraduate degree, and once to a panel of the company’s partners, where I would be told if I were to receive a full-time return offer. 

It is during this week of August when the dreadful Beirut Blast occurred, claiming the lives of over 200 victims, and leaving thousands homeless. My family packed our bags within minutes and left Beirut in a hurry, to temporarily move into our village home until further due. At the time, I was home, in Beirut, only a few kilometers away from the blast site. Had it not been a holiday, I would have been in the office, which is only a few meters away from the Beirut port. For days after the blast, I was in shock, repeatedly suffering from asthma attacks from whatever it is that I inhaled. The company extended tremendous support during this time, and I spent the next few days processing the disaster that I witnessed. Those few days, while I was trying to fathom what has happened, were clouded by rumors of a war approaching, nightmares, the sound of local news stations blasting, and a dreadful feeling of survivor’s guilt. While the pandemic did hit the entire world harshly, 2020 had other plans for Lebanon. Thankfully, my family survived the blast, with only psychological scars to show. In that moment, survivor’s guilt has amplified my love for volunteering. 

I successfully concluded the internship with a full time offer in my hands, which represesented more than just a job offer. To me, this provided me with a sense of stability amidst the chaos. I amplified my efforts when volunteering at All Girls Code, where I organized online workshops to benefit the community about various topics, such as scholarships, financial aid, job hunting, internships, college majors, and more. We aimed to teach women in our broken community that the possibilities were endless, as they always were, and as they always will be. 

The first reaction of us Lebanese people after the blast was to grab our brooms and head to the streets. By the end of the month, we dreamt of plans to rebuild our city. I am proudly one of these Lebanese who will always see the light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to giving back to my community more and more, both professionally as a consultant, and by volunteering and striving towards creating impact. And, of course, I look forward to learning more and more, since the possibilities are endless, always were, and always will be.

Naz Nasman

 Naz Nasman

From:  Istanbul Turkey

Activity: Master Student in Sapienza University of Rome

 

My name is Naz from Istanbul, Turkey. I am a first-year postgraduate student at the Sapienza University of Rome, from the Department of Economics and Communication for Management and Innovation. I am a Business Bachelor, and I also have a Minor Degree in Psychology from MEF University in Istanbul. As a career, I have experience in reputable local and global companies such as PepsiCo, Havas Media, DuPont, Borusan Holding, and Arcelik A.Ş. (under Koç Holding). Besides, I also have experience in the startup and academic world. As a person, I am not very good at describing myself but, I am trying to be a respectful, ethical, creative, and kind human being even though it is struggling to become one in the world today. 

My goal to grow in life is to enjoy everything I do as much as I can, cherishing every moment possible, and learn from my experiences continuously. It looks hard to implement, although this is the aim I am most ambitious. I try to shape my hobbies, my career and education preferences, and social environment according to this purpose, but not in a selfish way.

I cannot say that my journey in life started uniquely, but it has its challenges and achievements. After graduating from MEF, one challenge was to become one of the recognized people among fresh graduates in a country like Turkey, which has a significantly high young population. As I stated before, I obtained my bachelor’s degree is from MEF University, which was established just in 2014, thus, industries had some biases for new graduates or students from there, even though the education methods of MEF University are highly efficient for developing competencies of students. While I was trying to breakdown this boundary, I realized that being a Business student creates doubt for recruiters as well. I worked so hard and used every opportunity I can, to shine and overcome these difficulties. In the meantime, my minor degree in Psychology also gave me the necessary inspiration and motivation I need by helping me to have a broader vision of me and my social environment. Sometimes, I also could seize the opportunities that I can combine my Business and Psychology know-how to win some challenges, including winning the Digital Sparks competition in PepsiCo Turkey by implementing this point of view, for instance. However, while searching for a place for myself in my career path, I must confess that I could not motivate myself enough to make progress in artistic activities that I am most interested in, such as music, acting, and fashion illustration. I consider this a failure. 

Another challenge, but also an achievement, was going to Europe for Erasmus. Before, I had never been to Europe and never lived separately from my family. I went to Germany without knowing any German, had many struggles and issues, but also made unique and remarkable memories. I am highly pleased that I had enough courage to start this journey in Europe, and this experience also motivated me to find opportunities in Europe after my graduation.

I can also congratulate myself on how I stood strong enough to find a postgraduate program that suits me during 2020. I decided to quit my job in Arçelik A.Ş. in December 2019, to search for education opportunities in Europe. However, when Covid-19 cases first exploded in Turkey, I felt as I was not able to do anything and was highly demotivated. Then, I pulled myself together and continued to my applications no matter what. I got accepted to reputable universities such as Radboud, Bologna, and Sapienza University. Eventually, the University of Sapienza has become a part of my new journey.

Overall, the challenge I deal with the most is to learn who I am, what I want and find the balance between my expectations for myself versus how people around me want to see me. To discover these, I try to experience many different things possible to create a future that I will be most satisfied with.

Moreover, I think most of the decisions I make about every single thing that happened to me have been affected by the country I am from, Turkey. Being a Turkish citizen nowadays means that every single negative outcome that emerges, such as political issues, economic changes, affects our life directly. Rapid negative changes on gender discrimination, economic depression, femicides, intellectual freedom, force me to act too cautious and eventually make me grow slower. I feel unsatisfied and unhappy, and I am anxious all the time because of the ambiguous updates on Turkey’s daily agenda. Besides all these cons about Turkey, I can say that if you want to develop yourself in digital industries, Turkey has a very agile digital sector. Also, living in a big city like Istanbul helps me to seek more opportunities to gain more experiences for my career. 

Surprisingly, even 2020 could not be an obstacle to have more hopes and dreams about my future. I aspire to have the economic freedom I need by doing the job that I most enjoy, and I also want to improve myself for the artistic fields that I am most interested in and make them a significant part of my daily life. I want to inspire others and become an honest, respectable human who can help all the living creatures as much as I can. 

Lastly, I aspire to explain my plan to make the world a better place. My current career goal is to develop marketing activities of firms, especially in the digital area, to make them more applicable to ethical purposes. Digital marketing and related platforms have high power over people, and this power can be dangerous sometimes. I want to make brands more aware of their impact on human psychology, thus, create new ideas and marketing strategies accordingly. I do not know if I can succeed, but at least I will try. Also, being respectful and susceptible to every personal choice of each individual, and being fair towards all creatures are already small but huge steps for making the world better. 

Osama Hussein

Osama Hussein

From: Jordan

Age: 24 Years

Activity: MSc Informatics Specialized in IoT

When I was 14 years old I spend a lot of time playing RPG games made friends and acquaintances. I  have enjoyed playing and the experience that I was getting, but it was mainly the experience that the game  developers wanted me to have. I have always had those questions ‘what if this was that’ or ‘what if I could  do that’ or wondered if others were experiencing the same as me or had got same thoughs or taste as I,  how it will be? I started exploring private servers and building my own, using my imagination and thoughts  into shaping a unique experience that was only found on my server. Having different skins, modifying  quests, simply altering the source of the game with my own touch. I grew a fond for software and saw it as  my way of communicating and letting the world see and experience things the way I did.  

I majored in business information system which or as commonly reffered to ‘IT’. Course by course along  projects, I started seeing it differently. Understanding the business need and figuring out where the  problem lies, mixing that with project management and software skills enhanced my vision placed me on  the path of advancing and challanging myself to understand and try to solve real world problems.  Throuhout university one of the projects or as can be looked at as a challenge, how to increase the  technopreneurship in Malaysia. My team and I proposed to combine libriraies and cybercafes to build a  suitable enviroment for the tech-enthusiast as an encubator to facilitate a transition into  technopreneurship. Also, I had noticed that we as students are having a delay in the clinic university,  keeping up with visit histroy and documents issued by the clinic. I had dedicated my senior project into  developing a cross-platform solution for both students and clinic medical staff to facilitate booking  appointments and medical history access.  

Growth was the key to consistancy, and to ensure growth I had to go beyond what I was given, strive for  more. Most people get universities the wrong way, it is not meant for universities to teach us and feed us  information to be ready to join the job market, then we would be leaving robots out of jobs. The best  university experiecne that we could get is for us to find the best way for us to learn and understand how  the world is integreated around us and how we can contribute to it’s growth. In another words as I like to  say, add our own touch to the world. I started surfing the pool of courses online and capitalize my technical  skills, explore what can be done aside from building a transactional or management softwares, or designing  websites. That was when machine learning crossed my path for the first time. Imagine how our brain works, 

all those decisions and preferences that we have uniquely as individuals, now imagine trying to put that in  words let alone putting it into a scheme, structure or a model and teaching that to a machine.  

I started at the very bottom, which was the very first step, arranging and manipulating of data. I managed  to build a data manipulator and visualizer and fit it into an Android mobile application, it wasn’t that huge  or even smart application. The aim was for me to build an application that allows the user to manipulate  and visualize a set of data through a mobile application. As a starting point, I would say that this was a not  bad start for me, baring in mind that no start is a bad start, and no knowledge is a bad knowledge, only  what we choose to do with it determines it.  

Throughout my journey I wore several hats in the IT industry such as IT helpdesk, Traffic Analyst, front-end  developer, tech and e-conference executive, QA game tester even had my share on managing IT projects  as a technical presales specialist. I have had the opportunity on working closely with AI experts first hand  managing their projects, understanding how they think and how to be solution-oriented thinker utilizing  technology and the problem itself into making life easier. Prior to my dive into the project-side of IT, I had  the opportunity to work with a Malaysian startup wanting to empower the farmers and local grocery  wholesalers by offering them a platform online to sell their products and increase their market reach. I  have learnt a lot about maintaining and managing services, let alone the operational-side of things. Having  that knowledge in hand, helped me in understanding the needs of clients when proposing them the AI  solution that I was a key member representing along other teachnical consultants when I was wearing the  presales hat and working more in the project side of the IT industry.  

Throughout my masters, I have had the chance to work on interesting stuff with machines, such as facial  and gesture recognition, building deep learning models, classifying images and even building basic 2D and  3D games. As time keeps ticking, I have gone through different experiences, obsorbing more and my vision  grows with it. It changes with time, and that’s not a bad thing, change is enividable, it’s up to us how we  do it. Looking at life from a different perspective, we could see why games are loved, or even football, we  like to get a sense of achievements and or legacies, witness it. Witnessing change and how it’s authentically  orchestrated. If we look at life from that perspective, I am curious how are we orchestrating our legacy? 

Rayane El Medawar - Photo(1)

Rayane El Medawar

From: Beirut, Lebanon

Age: 26 Years

Activity: HR Officer 

I graduated  with a degree in Business – Management from the Lebanese American University (LAU).  My experience of over four years presents knowledge in all functions of human  resources. My organization, time management and fast-learning skills allowed me to have an exposure to the laws and practices in the Middle East and African countries. 

My slogan in life is balance: gut and mind, work and life, policy and exception,  overeating and diet. 

My awareness to  the stagnation in my comfort zone at a certain point in my career path, and the  opportunities I may have missed are for now the ones that push me forward. I always  look up to a better version of myself, and hope I can make my father, who has paid a  good amount of money to enroll me in one of the most reputable universities in  Lebanon, proud of me. 

I  wish I can say tiring, in view of the constant changes in my country and the challenging  conditions at work, but it would be unfair to others who had a much more hectic path. 

Therefore, I prefer to describe it as rewarding. I am happily a self-taught human  resources professional.  

October 17th revolution? Third largest explosion in history? Third most devalued currency? Yes, all  that took place in my country. لبنان ,Liban, Lebanon…one word in three languages  describing one of the most amazing countries in history, nature, culture, hospitality,  and cuisine. My Lebanon is a double-edged sword: it upbrings trilingual, resilient,  highly educated and open-minded individuals, yet fails to push them forward. Needless  to say, Lebanese get their chance and shine abroad. 

Picture this with me:  a fresh graduate, armed with a strong personality and interest in human resources, gets hired as an HR Officer for the company’s branch in Lebanon. Two months later,  she finds herself in charge of the entire HR department and eighty employees, all alone.  A year later, she gets introduced to Gulf operations with supervision of the Group  Admin/HR Manager. With the advance in time, the HR Department in Lebanon became  central and a reference to other subsidiaries. My ambition definitely does not stop at  this point. My next target? Europe exposure!  

Not only do I aspire to assume a  position as an HR Manager and HR Director in the future, but I also hope to help those  unemployed. I currently do this on a small scale and as much as my time allows, and I  aim to increase the number of helped job seekers with time. 

The stories  about mistreatment of some candidates by hiring managers are truly saddening…and  shocking! I am, since the date of my employment, on a mission to alter the unpleasant  idea about recruiters. As change starts from within, I always make sure to respect  applicants’ time, effort, and intelligence by avoiding shallow questions as “what are  your strengths and weaknesses” and not rescheduling an interview last minute. 

Reine Metlej

Reine Metlej

From: Lebanon

Age: 24 Years

Activity: Engineer and Entrepreneur

I’m Reine Metlej from Lebanon, holding a master’s degree in civil engineering and a minor in environmental engineering. Started working in 2014 in sales and operation management, built my business persona that has fulfilled my readiness to work on my startup “BIOwayste”, a sustainability driven business offering decentralized systems to convert organic waste into cooking gas and liquid fertilizer. Like millions of people around the world; the economic situation, COVID-19, and the lockdown could have stopped my plans; but I took the challenge to adopt a resilient and dynamic mindset and considered these times as an opportunity for me to further develop my business skills, enrolled in various boot camps and trainings and here I am today harvesting success at its first steps of the thousand miles.

Since my early childhood, I’ve always had a passion for women empowerment, given the inherited challenges that myself and most of the women out there have to face. This passion is now part of my daily joyful routine to shed light on women initiatives and promote the power of women across the globe. I believe gender shouldn’t be an issue in business and I’m taking steps to reinforce this by being a successful entrepreneur myself and passing the heavy-weight learning and expertise to more and more females by the day.

I’ve been a warrior, I’ve been there and failed for years and years, until I discovered that the downs create just as much, if not more, motivation than success does. I don’t hesitate to jump head-first into the next challenge as soon as the last one has been completed. Few years back I went through a very rough time and that stayed in my little world never shared with anyone. I learned and learned to become super proud of the person I am today. A 24 years young lady, an engineer, a founder of a globally rewarded tech startup and a member of the Lebanese League for Women in Business.

I believe that every successful woman has her own secret success recipe. Every challenge we face makes a fulfilling experience of self-discovery. So, grab every viable opportunity and take the risks where needed, because easy is not a choice you’d want to take.

roubabsalameh

Rouba Salameh

From: Chahtoul, Lebanon

Age: 24 Years

Activity: Social sciences, Co-owner a copy center

My name is Rouba Salameh, I’m an undergraduated of Social Sciences, this is my senior year, I will be taking my BA and applying for my masters, still figuring out what to study next, basically am looking forward to study social psychology because it’s the main reason that made me study social sciences so it’ll help me more to understand society and how to evolve it. I really love to help people around me more than help myself actually, I care about everything and everyone that’s what encourages me more to be in psychology so I can help more and make even the slightest change in someone’s life. I would love to have my own clinic someday or work with NGOs to help not only my country but the whole world. My qualifications and traits are not that many, I’m an excellent listenner, a great motivator, I never judge, I always look at the bright side, a hard worker and always trying to find something new to improve myself. 

So far I had a short journey, I’m a volunteer in the church near my house, we help families and provide them food, money, moral support, and if needed material support such as warmth supplies etc… I help children after school with their homework, and try to help them succeed in their class so they can be successful in life too. I look forward to expand more my abilities and skills and finding myself, living in my country with the covid incident and economy made my path harder than ever like finding a stable job, and get the experience I need. I co-own a copycenter with my brother which made my life a bit easier and gain more confidence and more responsibilities and gain skills I could never think of getting, improving a bit my creativity skills and expanding my knowledge with many computer softwars. I really hope that Lebanon will rise again and let us, the younger generation, improve it, and get it to the top again. I’m proud of the person I am right now, because it made me stronger and an achiever. I have lots of hopes and dreams that I want to achieve and I really hope someday I can make the world a better place. To help as much as I can the people around me.

Selvinaz Ezgi Bezirkan

Selvinaz Ezgi Bezirkan

From: Turkey-Izmir

Age: 23 Years

Activity: new graduate( ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING)

 I graduated from Izmir University of Economics, Department of Accounting and Auditing. I graduated in March 2021. I went to primary and high school in a public school. Turkey also anyone who enters the same exam to go to college. State and private universities provide education. You decide where to study. There are many students who go to study outside of the city. They stay in dormitories or student houses. I’m not one of them. I have lived with my family my entire school life. I have a conservative family. Turkish families are generally more interdependent. Even if we stay apart with my family for only 2 days, we miss our . But I had the disadvantages of this. I could not party with my friends, stay together, or go on vacation. You can do these while living with your family, but I had to go home. We were looking after my sick grandmother. My mother was getting very tired and upset. I did not want to travel when my mother was at home. My friends were going to the cafe when the lesson was over, I was never going, I was going home immediately. My whole university life passed like this. I gave myself to classes. I worked harder. I went to internships, followed career days. I thought about the life I want to live in the future. I studied the university with a 50% scholarship. My father paid a certain amount to the school. I didn’t like this situation. I had a younger brother than me, and he was going to school. I thought I was a burden to my family and I was trying not to spend money. I studied harder in my lessons and finished my school 1 semester early. In this way, my father paid less. I am a loving, compassionate and hardworking person for his family. At my school, I was known and loved by my teachers. I also worked as my teacher’s assistant for a term. My teachers helped me find an internship, they were a reference. I worked a lot in places where I did my internship, I did every job, I learned a lot. But you need an acquaintance to prove yourself. I worked at workplaces with the support of my teachers. If they didn’t praise the me for being hardworking, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten a job. Support is very important. As a woman, I did not have any difficulties.  Most of the people I worked with were successful women. I had the opportunity to work side by side with people from different cultures. I made friends with people from all parts of the east and west. It is necessary to love and value people as human beings. I have not witnessed any discrimination or ill-treatment. Turkey with all the colors contrary to popular belief, the male with the female, with a black and white, with the müslim atheist, with  Turks Kurdish Alevis Circassian, with people from all walks, a very exalted state. If we go back to my profession. A profession with steps. Auditing is a growing profession in all countries. In our country, companies with 4 big companies are serving in the audit. I would love to work in these companies. Since I finished school early, I decided to spend this process by improving myself instead of finding a job immediately. As you know in accounting, being CAP is a very important status. That’s why I enrolled in the courses. If I pass the exam, I will be able to get an CAP license by doing an internship for 2.5 years. As I said, I want to work with one of the audit firms in this process. Audit firms are actually a school where we communicate with different customers and learn a lot. Here you can learn the information you will learn in 10 years in a normal company in 3-4 years. Of course, it is a very tiring and stressful period. But I don’t want to do a steady job. I want to rise constantly. When I get an CAP certificate, I deserve many authorizations. When I work in the audit firm, I will rise one level every year. It’s exciting to know this. My father and mother want them to have offices where they can do their own business. I want to support them in this period of ascension. I want their dreams to come true. Coming to me, after a certain period of time, I want to work at the company abroad for a few years to improve my language and gain different experiences in a different place. When I return to my country with the knowledge I have gained, I want to establish my own company and create a new young active business environment. I want to prepare an environment where I can serve and develop my country. Business life should not be completely business life. I will defend this at every stage of my work life. The whole world is in chaos, fighting and brutal events. The world is crying. The world is disappearing. I am a little sensitive person. These events make me very sad. I will do my best so that more conscious people can exist. You can do some things by raising awareness in the people around you. And life can be better with one step of yours. I believe in this. We have to plant lots of trees and teach our children about it. Instead of unnecessary internet content, we should read and have books that can be informed abundantly. When we see a child who wants to go to school, we must pay their expenses. There are very valuable projects that will benefit our economy and our world. We must protect and increase the number of projects developed in energy systems. A good deed actually affects every field. A stronger country, first of all for the world, as a human being, as a woman, as an accountant and auditor, I do my best and I will do it even more. My hope and goal is to be doing my job and living in a more livable world.

Yara Ghamlouche

Yara Ghamlouche   

From: Lebanon

Age: 22 Years

Activity: MsC student in Biomedical Engineering at the American University of Beirut – Research and teaching assistant. 

My name is Yara Ghamlouche. I am from a small village in South of Lebanon called Jbaa. I am basically a nerd. I study a lot and I love it. I read a lot. But I am also very social. I make friends wherever I go. I enjoy people’s company. My family means so much to me. I think about my family everywhere I go. I believe they played a huge part in making me the person that I am today. I love my country. Even when I plan to travel for studies or work, I know I never want to live away. This love is what pushes me to grow. And the more I grow, the more I am filled with love. 

I am a Biomedical Engineering MsC student at the American University of Beirut. Originally, I did my bachelor in Mechanical Engineering. And although I loved engineering in general, I knew since the first day in college that my studies will not end there. And that I wanted to pursue my PhD. The reason behind that was very simple for me; I would like to teach. Not because being a lecturer provides a good life. And most certainly, not because the society looks up to those who have continued their studies, those who cannot wait to add a ‘Dr.’ before their names. But in order to have an influence on the largest number of individuals, to be able to make a change. My effort, added to that of the many figures that have chosen a similar path, should be the change that will redirect our society’s views on many levels.

In my first year of university, I endured many challenges. Being one of very few girls in Mechanical Engineering, there were classes that I took as the only girl. Making friends from the same major was not easy. At some point in my semester, one of my colleagues expressed his amazement at my grading record. ‘I did not know that veiled women can be so smart’, he said. But why not? I did not get mad. ‘I need to change his mind, not validate his prejudgment.’ I reminded myself. There were many moments like this one during my first year. With time however, I was able to prove myself. I was even able to make friends out of everyone in my class. 

During my third year in Mechanical Engineering, I decided to do an internship in a city I have always loved; Barcelona. I was initially assigned to a sports business company. And I found that so many interesting things lie behind business, and there is so much to know and do in sports. I participated in so many workshops and met people from all around the world. I even decided to forget English for a few days and to communicate in Spanish with everyone I met. I was asked so many questions about my religion, my veil, why I do not eat meat or pork. It was all new to many of them. It was not an easy task to answer their questions. I kept an open mind and I said ‘I don’t know’ when I did not know. And I turned to the right people to ask when I found legitimate questions. It was beneficial to both myself and the environment around me that I was something ‘new’.

Working in this very friendly and international surrounding introduced me to the CEO of a biomedical engineering company. After few days, I was interning with both companies. I found a huge passion in the work I had started. When I went back to AUB, I worked on a blood pressure monitor for my Final Year Project. And that is when I decided to change course and apply for MsC in Biomedical Engineering. 

After graduating with a distinction and a minor in Mathematics at AUB, I entered the Biomedical Engineering program at the same univerisity. That is the position I currently hold. I now work as a teaching assistant for Electrical Engineering courses. I also work as a research assistant to both a Mechanical and Biomedical engineering professors. I co-authered three papers in my first year of MsC. One of them is published and two are on the way. I took so many different courses and fell in love when I studied computational neuroscience. Deciding to finally settle there was a huge decision; from Mechanical Engineering to Neuroscience. But I did. And I am very happy about it. The transition is not supposed to make sense. But believe me, it does. There are more similarities in everything we study than we can ever tell. The deeper we delve into different fields, the more we understand the law that governs everything around us.  

I like to think about life like that; a unity that covers everything. I like to travel for that reason. It makes me unsee any differences between people. And I also like to teach for that. Because I want to able to help people grow, to spread knowledge, but most importantly, to spread love. 

Duygu Ağbaş

Duygu Ağbaş

From: Turkey

Age: 24 Years

Activity: Newly graduated from Dokuz Eylül University
Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering.
Currently unemployed


I am Duygu Ağbaş and just a person like everybody who can read this. Also newly graduated Metallurgical and Materials Engineer who is currently unemployed. I cannot describe who I am because I am not sure about it and I do not think anyone can be sure. However, if I want to talk about who I am, I think I can describe myself as someone who lives in line with her truth and tries to explore life, and enjoys every minute. Due to this description above, I am full of determination and curiosity. I believe our brains capacity to learn everything we want and I am testing it in different areas all the time. That is why I am not saying I do this or that…I am saying I have a huge hunger for knowledge in every different field and my spark is determination and love.
Your ambitions, drives and motivations to succeed and grow in life
I am an ambitious person. But it is not a bad one. My motivation in ambitiousness is always challenging myself. I never compete with others. I believe competing with others is the worst for improvement. That is why I only compete with myself. Challenging myself is the key to my improvement in every field I want to succeed. Limits are only in our minds.
The journey you’ve had so far, and challenges that you have met and overcome
When I was little, I loved reading books, I still love them, but I didn’t have money to buy books back then. I always cut back on my school allowances and this was not different in my university life. I was staying in the dormitory in the first years, but after that time I had to leave the dormitory. I went home with people I didn’t know, we had problems because we didn’t know each other, but somehow I managed to solve them. After I got home, I had a lot of financial difficulties. As in every stage of my life, I worked in different part-time jobs to be able to pay rent or practice my hobbies, learn new things and improve myself in years when everyone was living the way they wanted and having fun in bars and cafes.
After that, when I was doing my first internship, I had the chance to take part as a subcontractor in a very good project and I was very excited to learn and teach for 3 months. The more I learned about the jobs, the more I started to take part in the job field, and this required working with foreigners. Company employees had difficulties in negotiating because they did not speak a foreign language. An agreement could be reached by speaking in English, but knowing Italian and Spanish put the company and me in a different position in the eyes of foreigners … I had already started to learn Spanish and started to work by speaking Spanish in order not to put myself and the company in a difficult situation, and then I continued to learn more. I even got a job offer, but unfortunately, I had to continue studying at university. Even now I am learning German, my goal is to live abroad and to improve myself constantly.
Everybody has difficulties in their lives. The thing is how to think during the situation and how to overcome it. The decisions in these define your future.
Factors in your own country/region that have helped or hindered you
The greatest thing my country has contributed to me is that we had and will always have a leader like Mustapha Kemal Atatürk and we have grown up in his light with his teachings. On the other hand, now, the whole country hinders me, and many people like me. The unemployment rate in my country is increasing day by day. Moreover, women are being murdered every day because of gender inequality. In every institution and industry of the country, there is employment-based on the fact that people who are favored only by a rich acquaintance get a job and get a good salary. Unfortunately, this is also true academically. For this reason, people who can do useful works for the future have to cope with future anxiety, unemployment, and lack of money in the most beautiful and productive times of their youth.
Therefore, I also do not feel safe and cannot show the improvement I want.
Achievements you are proud of, next goals you look forward to
My achievements mostly about art. I am interested in art, Latin dances, ballet, and playing the piano. I have sold paintings. Got a certificate in Latin dances which was so delightfully joyful. I have learned how to play the piano when I was 21. Also, I can easily learn languages and most have learned everything by myself.
I strongly want to improve myself academically just as a scientist. My degree is suitable for building a bright future. I am in a highly technical field of engineering and can certainly help build a better future for all people. But it would be better to do an academic career abroad. Because I need to see other countries’ education systems and opportunities. Especially I am into material science. I would love to work in that field even I do not have any experience. It is a highly interesting and improvable field. With an academic career, I also hardly sure I can inspire my future students and I believe that different and younger points of view improve success.

Your outlook for the future, hopes and dreams
My greatest dream is to travel all around the world. I want to see every culture, language, and livings. If I can achieve this dream, my goal is to write a travel book.
Also, I am currently taking ballet classes. I have always wanted to learn ballet but never got the chance. I started learning adult ballet as I wanted to devote my free time to things I wanted to learn during my unemployment. Still learning and I hope I can wear the pointy shoe as soon as possible.
Besides I am a beginner and intermediate Yoga instructor. Yoga is a philosophy that balances my mind and body as well as teaching me to be aware of myself, to breathe with my whole body, to be kind to myself, and to be patient. When I adapt these things to my life, I realized that my awareness increased and life was easier to live. I hope this will be an activity that I want to continue throughout my life.
As Albert Camus once said, “Life is nothing, live with care.”
How you want to make the world (or tiny part around you) a better place
Earth is our only home for now and we must think hard before we act. With global warming, the biggest disaster on our door, all people need to work together to minimize its effects. If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s that we are all connected in this world. For this reason, we should not forget that we consider every detail and act on behalf of everyone, both for ourselves and future generations.
I’ve been choosing a minimalist lifestyle for a long time to enhance my environment and life. I try to minimize my consumption, minimize all my purchases, reduce my waste rate and keep my carbon footprint to a minimum in order not to consume anything other than I need.

Faraz Shahsavan

From: Tehran / Iran

Age: 22 Years

Activity: Studying Computer Engineering at the University of Tehran

Iran. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you read this name? Indeed, there are numerous factors, that contribute to the overall inconvenience widespread for talents in Iran, and no matter how bright or technically adept you are, the only thing that can help you flourish is adaptability. Now, what do you suppose adaptability means in this context?

My name is Faraz Shahsavan, and I am a 4th year undergraduate student in computer engineering at the University of Tehran. I have done plentiful research in computer science since halfway through my undergraduate education, only after taking part in two startups in the first half of my undergraduate period, each of which provided me with invaluable skills and work ethics.

I studied at the National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents for secondary and high school, the same organization Maryam Mirzakhani has attended. I started my academic journey, by attending Physics olympiad for high schools, and even though I achieved great knowledge and a clutch of awards, I came short 2% from the final cut of the national team, which was probably the smallest unit of grade that could be granted. This was a critical point in my life. It was the first time I realized that you do not always get what you set your mind to, and this revelation was shocking to me. Just imagine how cruel it is to spend more than two years focusing on one thing, with all your passion and dedication involved, but lose it in a 4-hour period and then there is nothing left of it for you. In addition to this, acing that exam was supposed to exempt me from having to take the nation-wide university entrance exam, which has over 150,000 participants every year, and students often tend to spend all 4 years of their high school preparing for that. But now, I was slammed with the fact that I had to take it, and I had only one year to prepare. So, here is what I did. I stayed up that whole night crying. I mourned the future that was not going to be mine anymore goodbye, and by the sunrise, I had something new to fight for. In only a few weeks, my rate of progress surprised all of the educational counsellors and top students in our school. I was able to become the first rank among some of the best students of the country, even regardless of the fact that they had studied for much longer than I had.

At the end of that year, I finished in the top 0.2% of the whole country in the university entrance exam. I received a scholarship from the government, and had the privilege to enter the University of Tehran to study computer engineering, which was the most selective major throughout Iran at the time. Not only does all that I went through make a great story to tell, but also, having failed at the course of study I had selected earlier in my life helped me realize that I wanted a change of career. I had become self-aware enough through fighting for my goals, that I decided a career in computer and technology was going to work out for me best. Now, I would like to point out, that as I look back, had I made the cut in the Physics olympiad in the first place, I most probably would not have considered this pivot from physics and its relevant majors to computer science.

I asked you what you thought adaptability here meant, at the beginning of this piece. In retrospective and in short, I adapted. I adapted so many times in my life, that I am not afraid of any sort of detour in my predetermined plans anymore. I adapted when I had to let go of a lost future. I adapted when I entered university and noticed that I needed an incentive and engaged in startups. I adapted when I realized I had to get over each of the startups, and gravitate towards academic research. And finally, I adapted every time the unstable economy of my country, along with all other factors, struck. Unfortunately, due to lack of sufficient support, I had to witness the doom of many of my highly-talented friends in whatever they did. They did not adapt, and that is probably what I pulled out the best.

Today, I am a professional Chess player, with a rating of 2200 on Lichess, a former participant in the Iranian master league, and the former team champion of Tehran high schools. I do research in a handful of topics related to distributed systems, under direct or indirect supervision of three professors, the most famous of which being Prof. James Larus of EPFL of Lausanne. I lead weekly social hiking tours, and host online free discussion for English and movie discussion gatherings.

In this portion, I would like to pay tribute to the startups I got to be a part of. During the first year of university, I met this talented sophomore student, named Saeed, that had the perspective of seeking and solving problems that were formerly lost in people’s day-to-day habits. After going a bit back and forth with what we could do, we decided that we wanted to build products in the field of Internet of Things. We gathered a team of four highly-motivated electrical engineering students, and one computer engineering student being me, as the core of our startup. Then, as time went by, we expanded our team based on members’ personal skills and connections. It was a great experience for me, and I suggest that all young people get involved in this atmosphere, because it teaches you how much communication and collaboration matters in the real business world. It is also a great illustration of the importance of preplanning your actions, with consideration of the situation of the market and society.

After one year, I decided to let go of this first startup for the sake of starting another one. In the first year of university, I managed to make close friends with four other students that were inspired by growth and entrepreneurial lifestyle. We used to regularly spend a lot of time talking about everything that was going on around us, and how we each would want to continue on the course of our lives. At the beginning of the second year of university, we started a long-term movement of creativity. We started by holding weekly coordination sessions, and then everyone could come up with as many as possible ideas and solutions to our surrounding problems. In the second phase, we ran thorough analysis of each of the ideas set forth by the members of the gatherings in a wide variety of aspects. Our goal in this movement, was to nurture the culture of problem-solving among our fellow students and participants. We innovated in our method by bringing the principles of agile methodology in software development into our process of managing the movement. At the end of one year of constant work, we all had a broader perspective. We all had an idea of the ups and downs of the life of an entrepreneur, and the process by which an idea is turned into a plan, and a plan is realized.

My concluding advice to younger people that have not still figured out what they want to do with their lives, is to experiment with different sorts of activities, and not be afraid of something not working out, since this is the only way we learn – by trying out.

buket

Buket Öztürk

From: İstanbul / Turkey

Age: 20 Years

Activity: Student of the Department of Economics and Industry at Sakarya University

My name is Buket. My name means flower. I’ve always been someone who loves flowers, green, forest. 

I am 20 years old and live in Turkey with my family. Turkey is a country that hosts many cultures and people. There are many natural beauties. There are many options for travel.

I’m a student and I love my department. I want to be a human resources specialist in the future. I really want to improve myself. Learning languages, traveling has always been indispensable for me.

I like reading books very much. I finish two books every week. I’m always hungry, but to find out:)

I love loneliness. I have my own world. Just the ones I love. My hobbies, my family, my friends, my feelings. 

I like to know different cultures and people. I went to 6 different countries 4 years ago. I experienced this with the erasmus program. It was like a dream for me. I’m an impatient and excited person. I always have fun. People usually say I smile.

As a teenager living in Turkey, I can say: I am afraid.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to get a job when I graduate. Salaries are minimal. people are getting poor. I wish I had enough money for everyone. no child should cry because they don’t have shoes.  no woman should be killed for saying no. no one should get hurt because he doesn’t follow the rules.  In Turkey, women or children are killed every day. the government doesn’t protect women. that makes the situation legitimate. I’m afraid one of the people killed for no reason could be me or my loved ones. I wish I had the power to change a lot of things in the world. a world where everyone is equal, everyone is happy, everyone is full and feels safe.

enes

Enes GÖK

From: Turkey

Age: 19 Years

Activity: Student

I am Enes from Turkey. I am 19 years old and a second year industrial engineering student at Middle East Technical University in Ankara. I describe myself as an ambitious, compassionate, sporting, cheerful and optimistic person. I can easily increase my motivation and focus better on what I will do. At the same time, I love math and physics. Thanks to my interest in numerical courses, I chose the engineering department. Although many people around me wanted me to be a doctor, I decided to follow my dreams and I am very happy that I made this decision. One of the reasons that provide my motivation in life is my dreams, my dreams make me stand on this difficult road. At the same time, the life stories of good people who have proven themselves in the world come to mind and I remember how difficult conditions they reached the top. That’s why I know the road will be thorny as I go to the top and I never give up. There have been times in my life that prevented me. For example, when I was in high school, I was 1 hour away from my home and school, and I traveled every day for 4 years by public transportation. While I was preparing for the university exam, I went to school at 8 in the morning, left the school at 4 and went to my exam preparation course, I left the course at 8 in the evening, went to the library, studied until 12 pm, and then reached home with a 1 hour journey. At the same time, my grandmother passed away the year I took the university exam. My grandmother was very important to me because she raised me when she was a baby. But despite all these difficulties, I never gave up and continued to take firm steps towards the summit. Since the education system in my country was not very good, I had to go to the additional course in order to gain a good university, so I went to the course after school and I was more tired. As a result, I had my first goal in this challenging track and I went into the first 6000 people from 2.3 million students and I read the following in one of Turkey’s best universities. In the future, I want to be the CEO of one of the world’s largest companies. So I want to do my best to make the world a better place in my field. If I have good economic strength, I want to help people with poor financial means to live in equal conditions.

prisca

 Prisca Gebrayel

From: Lebanon

Age: 23 Years

Activity: Last semester of my Master’s degree in Food Chemistry; doing an internship for my final year project in a craft beer industry: Analysis of bitterness and aroma compounds in hops and their behavior during the brewing process

Expected date of graduation: June 2021

Since elementary school, I’ve always had a passion for learning and discovery. Every course I took, whether it was at school or university, was considered as a plus for me regardless if I was going to use the acquired information later on. Throughout the years, I developed skills in consistency, perseverance and most importantly critical analysis. I mastered the art of “reading between the lines” and “connecting the dots”, that’s why I majored in life sciences and biochemistry. In fact, it is a perpetuating cycle of learning and evolvement. Moreover, I loved how biological foundations are built on and learning the methods that led to modern scientific discoveries was a delight for me.

Over the course of my bachelor years, my academic achievements got better and better despite the many obstacles that were upheld against. I perceived them as scaffold to reach greatness and ended up graduating with a very good GPA and I was featured on the Dean’s honor list. I then specialized in a Master’s of Food Chemistry through which I learned quality work, molecular processes and food safety basics including the implementation of ISO 22000. Now, I am finishing my master’s thesis having acquired good experience through several internships in the idustries and laboratories, looking to become a renowned scientist in this field. I’ve worked endlessly to get here. A recipe of motivation and revolutionary vision coupled with endless internships and researches made me what I am today.

Here, in Lebanon, we have been facing for over a year the worst economic crisis that ever happened with the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic. The Lebanese people, including me obviously, have been in an anxiety inducing state for more than a year and especially the youth. The sectarian regime has taken its toll in standing out as the worst regime in history and we the “youth” and “tomorrow’s leaders” have been paying the price for a while. Personally, I am trying to take advantage of the situation and turn it as a motivation to achieve the highest spots. I have been doing my best to stay focused on my studies and my current internship, searching for new information to expand my knowledge in my free time. I never stopped working on myself and even in the middle of the pandemic when I couldn’t find a job or internship in my field, I managed to find an internship in the business field as project coordinator. I saw this as a one of a kind opportunity, and preferred to go through it rather than sitting at home doing nothing. In fact, I learned and grew in this internship where I operated under training and auditing frameworks to efficiently organize and carry out project tasks. I also successfully managed 3 big international projects while maintaining adherence to budget, schedule and scope requirements, and instructed a new service for the company.

I am really proud of my perseverence and how I always manage to be successful while leaving my mark in every field that I enter. To be honest, I couldn’t have done anything without the support of my doctors at university that always encourage me to invest my intellectual and social capacities in every work that I do. I also owe my success to my supportive family and friends who always push me to go further. 

As a young woman, I have many ambitious dreams and goals that I am aiming to accomplish. I want to pursue a PhD in the field of research and development in food sciences. This way, I will be able to use my research time to make important discoveries within that field helping industries to attain better quality and innovative products. I think this can also impact to some extent the customers of such industries because they will be provided with high quality and secure food, making their lives a little better.  

After my experience in the business field, I also seek to get an MBA. I consider this degree really interesting as it helps learning business skills such as the ability to quickly and accurately analyze large amounts of information and the ability to develop smart solutions to business problems. These are indispensible in almost every work one will do.

Meanwhile, I will not stop working in the food industry whether as a researcher or a quality controller/food safety officer as I am dedicated to contributing my knowledge to the industry and its customers. Hard work always pays off!

stephanie

Stephanie Rahbani

From: Lebanon

Age: 24 Years

Activity: Employed / junior graphic designer

I am Stephanie Rahbani, the founder of 52designs. At 23 years old, I graduated from NDU with a BA in Graphic design and have since been working as a graphic designer in an agency, alongside running 52designs and undertaking freelance jobs. Born in the early months of November, that makes me a Scorpio!

The thing that defines me as a designer is the set of values that I follow including: patience, passion for art, but also attention to detail & punctuality. These principles have repeatedly manifested themselves throughout my college years, in my work as well as my personal life. A big believer in the saying “if you do not love what you do you will never be happy”, you will find me very passionate about my job, field and projects I undertake and as such, I am always looking forward and growing as a graphic designer, with new skill sets, creative thinking and problem solving methods.

Along with my growth mentality, I also believe that what defines me today may not be what defines me in the far future. For now, however, the experiences I have gained in my field as well as my personal life, have shaped the basis of who I am, have helped me grow to what I am today, have made me stronger and more courageous. I am excited to be discovering day by day who else I can develop into & hopefully take you along the journey with me.

If I had to sum up what defines me in a concise sentence it would be this:

I am a designer and an artist at heart that draws inspiration from the life I lead with passion and a “life-long learner” mentality.

My ambitions are like any other designer who want to make something out of themselves, to achieve things and leave an impact or a footprint behind. 

While I’m always motivated to become the best version of myself, I also think that what drives me the most is the chaos and the challenges that life throws at me. And while it can be difficult at times, I believe that these situations are what makes us more driven and ambitious towards reaching our highest goals. 

Another important factor that drives me to work harder is Time. Time is the most valuable thing as it is an accident of motion that cannot be stopped or reversed, and as said by Theophrastus, “That waste of time is the most extravagant and costly of all expenses.”

Therefore, I always want to achieve and learn more through webinars, lectures, workshops, online classes and so on. Never has my emphasis on time been more important than through the pandemic the world was thrown into. Quarantining reinforced my belief that time should not be taken for granted. I didn’t want to waste a single minute and started working on myself, learning as many new things as I possibly could. 

My journey as a designer had its ups and downs but despite it all I managed to reach and achieve things that I thought were beyond my capabilities. I started my graphic design career in 2016 in my second year in Notre Dame University. The courses and course loads were tough on me, yet I managed to learn more and push myself to get to where I wanted to be and graduated with a high GPA in both major and core courses. My juggling of both education and career proved to me that I could take on challenges and be able to achieve what I have in mind. 

The toughest challenge I have been through is persistence in the face of tough tasks that will get me to my goal, and despite the hardship, I have been able to overcome them by taking it one at a time. Another is pushing myself in the midst of a global pandemic, that otherwise stagnates a person productivity. This particular challenge I was able to rejoice in even the little wins, maintaining a stable career throughout it all and working as hard as possible. 

Living in Lebanon, especially in the recent years, hasn’t been easy, with all the difficulties we’ve faced from the economic & political collapse, the revolution and the ongoing pandemic. However, despite all this country has thrown at me, I’ve managed to continue working on myself and obtain a decent job and several freelance projects, when unemployment reached its highest.

Even though it’s been a tough ride and thinking about the future seems like such an uncertain thing, being here and overcoming all these situations have made me stronger and more resilient whether I chose to accept it or not. It made me find my voice as a designer and work on having a unique style, since this is an important factor that further establishes and differs you from the rest. 

I have had many achievements in the past year including:

Working on my brand “52designs”, which allowed me more exposure and ultimately helped me expand my client base both regionally and internationally on freelance projects.

I also focused more on my UI/UX projects and managed to obtain a certificate in UI/UX design with Adobe XD: Design & Prototype a Mobile App.

These achievements are just the first steps of progress in my career and my brand image that I am proud of. My next goal is to expand my horizon as a designer, work more on my social media presence, promote my work locally, globally and most importantly make my family proud because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them by my side. 

Seeing as the future right now is a bit hazy, I have had to miss any notion of a concrete plan and instead have had to adopt a harsh flexibility to adjust to the evolving status. My end Goal however, is to enter the world of entrepreneurship and own my design company one day, portraying and showing the world how the graphic design industry works. Being a part of the design community helped me build big dreams, such as having my own style in design, creating my own fonts, building personal color palettes and leading a group of designers.

Wanting to make the world or even a part around me a better place is something that has always been within me. Whether it is leaving small impacts in the people around me through design or helping out the people I care about emotionally or physically. 

One of the things that inspire me is watching communities stand up and be there for each other as I have done during these hard times. As Lebanese people, we have managed to support each other despite our differences and challenges, and recognize that change comes from the little things. By continuing to be there for one another in any way we can, we provide help and a better place to live in and that’s how we become more resilient and make our surroundings a better place.

I tried to make the world a better place this year mostly during the chaos happening in our country and the global pandemic by helping as many designers as possible with pro bono projects, giving as many design advice as I can and so much more. The pro bono projects I take are paying it forward because I know that someday the designer whom I’ve helped will do their bidding and help others too.

leen

Leen Elkhatib

From: Lebanon

Age: 20 Years

Activity: Senior Marketing student with a minor in advertising and PR at the Lebanese American University

Living in a developing country often pushes your potentials to the limit, if you’re someone who aspires to rise rather than succumb to the reality they live in. Coming from a conventional and conservative city in south Lebanon with a modest financial background was pretty the challenge to pave the educational path and eventually the career path that I aspire. I attended a public high school, and have often been surrounded by a pattern of identical mentalities, ambitions, and dreams. People around me were so convenient going with the flow within their safe zone. Growing up in this environment, I was just like that as well. However, enviousness of confident, open-minded, and unconventional personalities pushed my boundaries and ambitions beyond my reality. Fast forward to today, I’m 20 years old, I ranked the first in South Lebanon in the official Lebanese Baccalaureate exams, I have a full-funded scholarship to study at one of the most prestigious universities in Lebanon, and I’m an undergraduate senior studying Marketing with a minor in Advertising and PR. Additionally, I have a Beta Gamma Sigma lifetime membership due to my high CGPA and diverse civic engagement activities with three Marketing and PR internships aside from one part-time job and one full-time job that I have been pursuing throughout my undergraduate studies. Simultaneously, I have been acquiring a rich volunteering experience with many NGOs ranging from UNFPA, UNDP, Save the Children, and others. Moreover, I have recently won Unilever’s own regional business cases competition “The Quest 2021” that started off with over 10,000 participants from allover the MENA region and I was among the 3 finalists  selected to represent the MENA region in the global Unilever Future Leaders League competition. 

One of the most prominent challenges that I have faced aside from the societal and financial ones is a personal one, in which I was often a shy introvert who wouldn’t haunt for opportunities. Eventually, I decided that this is not what it takes for me to get where I want. Thus, I started enrolling in activities and positions outside of my comfort zone that would challenge my potentials and push me forwards. As for the societal and financial challenges, they were both obstacles and motives in my journey. Living in such conditions is often easier to accept and embrace, rather than challenge and oppose. Therefore, it took me a lot of efforts and motivation to shift my mentality and view them as assisting factors. Aspiring to elevate my financial situation and exploring new mentalities and ambitions beyond my small society has inevitably opened me to new opportunities and provided me with incentives to always aim and dream big. 

As for what’s coming next, my ultimate motto for my future choices would be led by the fact that I strive to constantly reflect on my actions and beliefs and amend them to beget self-actualization, while simultaneously helping other people find their own voice and aspirations through exposure to opportunities, guidance and sharing my own story and takeaways. 

marwan

Marwan Ebeid 

From: Egypt

Age: 22 Years

Activity:

Finished my Undergraduate Bachelor of Business Administration in Management at the American University in Dubai (Graduated with honors)

I got accepted to Queen’s University in Kingston (Canada) and will pursue master’s in international business (Starting Fall 2021)

I have completed my BBA in management at the American University in Dubai and looking forward to further extend my education with the Master Program to pursue a career in the business management field. During the past few years of my undergraduate study, I have excelled in my academic performance by being a high-grade student resulting in being on the Dean’s honor list for four consecutive semesters. I became passionate to extend my studies beyond the undergraduate level which will ultimately support my career path, especially that many employers in today’s competitive job market prefer candidates who hold a master’s degree. 

With today’s global economic challenges that are also affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and are expected to last several years before a full recovery, many businesses need to review their strategies and it is essential to find the right approach in enhancing the business/operational models or in some cases implement complete transformations, this in certain cases includes business culture change not only within top managers but to the business as a whole. I strongly believe that with the knowledge base I will have in the next years,  I will be able to adapt to the ever changing business environment and its requirements, and I will effectively and efficiently change when looking for enhancement and new business opportunities. 

It always excites me to see what’s new in the international market and how it has been introduced, I, therefore, follow the news of events that occur across the globe to learn from them and taking them as a steppingstone to support me in becoming a better leader in future. My goal is to help the correct integration to organizations all over the world so that they can expand and enhance to become better and more efficient in a changing and evolving world. Having a global mindset is another important aspect in management, leaders to collect knowledge based on the human assets of their organizations and knowing about what they entail will translate to having a personal connection with employees encouraging them to become more creative by giving them a space to express themselves so that their diversity can be appreciated by the organization. Building on the creativity and diversity of motivated employees results in organizational and business profits. 

I have lived an international life, just as a glance of this I mention that I have been raised by a Germany born father, and Egyptian Mother with my younger brother born in Yemen, as a baby I was in China, attended Kindergarten and some of my primary school years in British schools of Sanaa and Tehran, went to the International School of Choueifat in Dubai where I lived most of my life. Dubai in the UAE is a very colorful bouquet of international culture as its population comprises of 85% foreigners and only 15% natives which are also reflected in the countless international businesses and companies. Living most of my life and growing up in such a very business-oriented international environment probably contributed to my passion for studying International Business. 

With my skills in having a systematical approach, looking for ways to simplify things, and the ability to be both productive and effective, combined with, eagerness to learn, active involvement, and a good concentration span, I believe that I will be successful in the future and the future companies that I will help evolve and to further develop the leadership skill that I previously experienced while being the university football team vice-captain as well as a tutor. 

Özlem Akekmekçi

From: Istanbul, Turkey

Age: 27 Years

Activity: Economics MA Student & Teaching Assistant

There are various traits that define me; dedicated, energetic, curious, direct, and outspoken. I always try to be open-minded and want to learn new things, cultures, identities, and perspectives. In my opinion, the best thing we can do in our lifetime is to make the world at least a little bit better place than we found it and we can achieve this only through respect (for all living creatures and environment), understanding, and science curiosity.

I am planning to be an academic and to conduct my research on political economics, inequalities, democratic institutions, freedom. My ambition is to ask more questions to understand the world and life better and to study and speak out for reducing inequalities. This is the motivation that shapes my life from daily habits to long-term goals. The world is meaningless, even cannot exist, without animals and nature, so I attempt to help the animals, speak up for them and try to minimize my environmental damage for the greener and sustainable future. I also think that even sometimes it is tiring to work hard, it is also important to not losing the sense of humor. Thus, even when we cannot make the world better, we can cheer up a tiny part around us!

Throughout my life, I have faced many challenges as much as anyone else, at least anyone else in the developing countries. Although I used to think that these were my personal problems, as time goes, I could see from a wider perspective how much of them are due to sociological, political, and economic reasons. For instance, in my high school years, when I want to be the first female student representative of our school, I have faced many challenges that are not faced by former male students. While some students openly expressing that they do not want any female representative, even some of the teachers had advised me to give up implicitly. I did not give up and was chosen as the representative. However, I have faced different forms of this discrimination in my private and professional life. Until today, I have always observed that women are left behind men in their career path, especially in leadership representations and managerial roles. I see that this applies not only in business life but also in academic life. The situation is much worse for different identities, some of them do not have representation in any roles in the workplace. My beloved university was one of the few institutions where women had an important place in managerial roles. However, this situation recently ended as part of political pressures. Now there is not a single woman in the administration.

So far, I have had the opportunity to try different fields in both academia and business life. I can call this both an achievement and a challenge. Although it was difficult to get used to the perspectives of different fields, I was able to handle it for now and this makes me pleased. Also, I feel very lucky because it enables me to see things from different perspectives. I want to combine these different perspectives, curiosity, and academic honesty to find the answers to my questions about the world and speak out freely.

My dream is the more equal world for all. Although the type of discrimination and inequality varies in each country, the harms are common. By considering all identities and groups, I would like to work on equal rights, equal access to public services, and redistribution. Most of the studies and experiences show that equality reduces conflict, increases freedom, fairness, productivity, security, and happiness. We made little progress on this problem, which is way older than Lennon’s dream of “all the people sharing all the world.” Not only the dreamers but students, academics, artists, politicians, we all should think about the equality and a more accessible world for all. It is not something we can only dream about; we can achieve this. Even it is hard and complex, it is worth it.

Joanne Rahme

From: Lebanon

Age: 24 Years

Activity: Maintenance Coordinator

As people, we are defined by every moment we go through, every thought we get and every day we live. For me, my childhood defined and shaped me. I was raised by a modest family. Ever since I could remember my dad was sick and my mom got sick at a later age. Since I am an only child, I was left with big responsibilities. I grew up having ambition and big dreams that one day I will turn my life around and achieve all the goals I wanted. But despite the hard times, my parents did their best to give me a good education since this was the only thing they could give me as a kid.

Later in life I started dreaming about going to my dream college “the Lebanese American University”, one of the top universities in Lebanon. I got help paying for my SAT test from a friend that stood by my side since day 1 and I was able to score the grades I needed to get into Engineering school from the 1st try. At the age of 17, I graduated from high school and went off to college to start a new chapter of life. Going to LAU was closer to a dream than reality. But luckily my parents managed to get an educational loan and did all they could to help me achieve my dream.

Dreaming of course was easier than actually doing it. I still remember the long nights of studying, while I had minimal resources, no wifi at home, 4 years of engineering with no laptop to use and sometimes no money to even get to university. All that was happening while I was working as a receptionest in a resort and an assistant at the president’s office of the university. However, each day that passed was taking me closer to my goal. And that kept me going.

And I will never forget the support that I got from my partner who stood by my side, helped me on each step of the way after we got back together in 2018. We met in 2011 when we were just kids. We spent years together before we split and both chose difference ways. However the universe had different plans for us. But even in those years he was always there for me. He got me a laptop on my final year, helped me finish my assignments and even learned a few softwares to help me finish my projects.

On October 2019, a revolution against the political system started, stopping all activities in the country for months. An economical crisis hit the country, job opportunities dropped, companies closed and people lost their jobs. All that while the Covid-19 virus hit the world making everything even worse.

Despite the hard situation, I managed to finish my studies and graduate after 5 years of hard work and minimal sleep. After a few months, I got back to my previous job as a spa receptionist until I get an opportunity to work as an engineer. A month later and out of the blue I got the opportunity to be part of the maintenance team of the resort I worked for. So while I was still managing work for the spa I was also preparing to transfer and begin a new journey. The job needed months of preparation and hard work until I finally transferred oficially on the 1st of April 2021.

I would be lying if I said I have everyhting figured out. The road is still foggy and the end is still not clear but the sercet is to enjoy each moment of the way and do your best with whatever you are doing until you make it. The jorney will never be easy and it never was but I have big dreams and many years to come to achieve them. I might not have my own business yet or work for the biggest company but I am on the right track to make everyhting I want happen.

I believe that when a door closes in front of you it means it was never your path to cross in the first place and a new and better door will be open soon. We just have to be patient (as my partner always tells me) and open our eyes to see the opportunities that this world has to offer us.

I am grateful for the hard times because it made me who I am today and made what I have achieved taste even better. And I owe what I have today to the support of my family, friends and partner. Looking back at all the things I went through from where I stand today, makes all the long nights, tears, hard work and sacrifices seem lighter. Never lose hope, dream big and wait for the magic to come.

%d bloggers like this: