Volume 20 | issue nº 3 Winter 2019

On a Mission to Change the World, One Student at a Time

By Naseem Ferdowsi

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Future educator Tala Lakiss has big dreams, including helping students reach their full potential and ultimately contributing to the development of Lebanon.

Unlike so many students who lack a clear plan for their future, Tala Lakiss, a secondyear education major at LAU, knows exactly where she wants to be in the next few years.

“In five years, I will be writing my master’s thesis, and in parallel, preparing my classroom decorations for Halloween to make sure it is a safe place for children,” said Lakiss with unwavering determination. “In 10 years, I will be standing in an Ivy League auditorium, my heart bursting with joy, because I made it: I will finally be a PhD graduate! It will be the best day of my life,” she added confidently.

More noteworthy is Lakiss’ ultimate goal: to teach at LAU. “My long-term goal is to give back to LAU as a professor. After getting my PhD in education, researching and exploring my field, I will be ready to use my knowledge to help my community and contribute to the development of my country and of LAU in the field of education,” she explained.

Lakiss has chosen to pursue a career in education because she is passionate about empowering people, which she says will help students reach their true full potential. While she has been at LAU only a short time, she is certain that it is taking her closer to her career goals.

Speaking about the life skills LAU has instilled in her, Lakiss said, “It has been only a year, and I have already learned so much – understanding people and controlling my emotions, financing myself, managing my time, setting goals and achieving them and many more.” Her coursework and extracurricular activities have also helped with her self-development, including public-speaking skills, and preparing her for her journey ahead in academia.

Lakiss says she is fortunate to have learned so many life lessons early on in life that will stay with her indefinitely. She attributes them to the well-rounded experience at the university, which includes rich student activities on and off campus, such as the Model United Nations and Model Arab League, as well as community initiatives she volunteers for.

“LAU and all my community involvement have taught me many values that are now a part of me and essential to my identity. To name a few, I have learned the importance of integrity, patience, teamwork, and to be responsible for my actions and my words, among so many others,” she said.

Her path to becoming an educator would not be possible without her fully funded educational experience at LAU. Lakiss is an award recipient of the USAIDfunded University Scholarship Program (USP), which aims to give public school students an opportunity to access a university education. She has worked hard for the award – starting in middle school, when she set her sights on securing the scholarship.

“In the eighth grade I started getting involved in community service at school, as well as volunteering, scouting, and reading as much as I could to grow and to be competent enough to get the scholarship. I worked on myself way before I applied for USP, and I have been working on myself ever since,” explained Lakiss.

Not winning a prestigious USP scholarship was not an option, as Lakiss had no other means to secure her way to LAU and get the solid education she is now being afforded. “Without my scholarship, I do not know where I would be in my life, who I would be or what I would be doing.”

Fortunately, Lakiss, and thousands of other students like her are pursuing their dreams at LAU thanks to scholarships and financial aid. This year alone, LAU dispersed $34 million in financial support to 4,600 students in need.

The university strives to ensure that all academically deserving students have a chance to pursue their education at LAU and continues to raise funds for scholarships so that more students like Lakiss can experience the institution and achieve their long-term goals.