In an inaugural ceremony of the sixth group of the Leadership for Education and Development Program (LEAD), The American University in Cairo welcomed 57 new LEAD students selected from 29 Egyptian governorates. It also presented awards for high academic and leadership performance to LEAD students from previous years. U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey, Hilda Arellano, director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Egypt, AUC President David D. Arnold, and senior officials from the Ministry of International Cooperation all attended the ceremony.
Established in 2004, LEAD offers full scholarships and accommodation to 57 public school students-one male and one female-from each of Egypt's governorates. LEAD is a joint program of USAID, the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation and AUC and provides distinguished Egyptian students graduating from government schools to attend AUC.
The program provides the students with opportunities to develop their leadership skills through training, workshops, teamwork, symposia and conferences. It also provides them with the opportunity to implement these skills to serve Egyptian communities and to develop it through tight relationships with different AUC student clubs and effective cooperation with NGOs and establishments of civil society.
Ambassador Scobey described the LEAD program, in her speech, as the most beneficial programs that the U.S. has been associated with in Egypt. "I have said many times that of all the programs that the US government supports in Egypt to promote education, economic and health development, the LEAD program is my favorite. The academic education that you will receive is unique and unmatched. AUC reflects the best of Egypt and the best of the US and provides the opportunity for a world-class education," she said addressing the students.
Since the beginning of the program, AUC has welcomed more than 320 students to the LEAD program. This year 48 students are expected to graduate, in addition to 18 who graduated last year.
President Arnold noted that the new LEAD students are joining the university in an exciting time after the historic move to the new campus after 10 years of construction, fund raising and hard effort. "You are fortunate to benefit from the university's new class facilities and extra-curricular activities. This institution is not only about academics but also about activities like community service activities, the Model of the United Nations and the model of the Arab League," he said.
"I was dreaming of joining the LEAD program since I was in middle school," said Karim Mohamed, a new LEAD student from Mansoura governorate, "AUC was a target for me and I worked hard to achieve it," he said, adding that he believes that AUC is the best university in Egypt that could provide him with the kind of education he wants and the extracurricular activities he likes. "My grades in Thanawwya Amma qualified me to join the School of Medicine, but I preferred to come here. The idea that you live away from your family in a new society and that you deal with people with different backgrounds is really challenging but it broadens ones experience and knowledge."
AUC allocates 17 percent of its operating budget - $18 million annually- to provide deserving students with a wide range of scholarships and financial aid including the LEAD scholarship - to assist them in meeting the expenses of obtaining AUC education.
The American University in Cairo (AUC) was founded 90 years ago and is major contributor to the social, political and cultural life of the Arab Region. It is a vital bridge between East and West, linking Egypt and the region to the world through scholarly research, partnerships with academic and research institutions, and study abroad programs. An independent, nonprofit, apolitical, non-sectarian and equal opportunity institution, AUC is fully accredited in Egypt and the United States.
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