May 19, 2022

Heba & Judy: When Syrian Women Dare to Dream

Judy Aldalati Banner

Every year, we continue to be inspired by the stories of new scholars joining Jusoor's scholarship program. We seek to find all the ways to help them achieve their potential by listening to their stories and learning from their utmost dedication.

Judy Aldalati Banner

Judy Aldalati and Heba Hamzeh were both awarded the Jusoor - ISOW Scholarship under our 100 Syrian Women, 10,000 Syrian Lives Program at Wilfrid Laurier University for the academic year 2022-2023. Both of these inspiring women will pursue their master's degrees and embark on a a new chapter in their lives where they fulfill their visions of creating a better future for Syria.

Judy Aldalati is a research assistant at the Access Center for Human Rights, where she works on documenting the violations against Syrian refugees in Lebanon. After she finished high school, she was awarded the Middle East Partnership Initiative Tomorrow’s Leaders (MEPI) scholarship that enabled her to study for four years at the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Beirut, including an exchange semester at Virginia Commonwealth University in the United States.

In 2021, Judy graduated from the LAU with a major in Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Political Science and International Affairs. She developed a sincere interest in the Syrian political context and wanted to understand it further from an academic lens.

“There’s a huge vacuum in the Syrian political context from an academic point of view. It’s very rare to see research that is written and owned by Syrian authors. This gap pushed me to challenge this narrative.”

During her exchange semester in the United States, Judy got the chance to get published in the Washington Post, which made her feel responsible for presenting the community in the States with a true portrayal of her home country, Syria.

“A lot of the scholarships nowadays are excluding the Syrian youth. I was so happy to see that Jusoor announced the scholarship for this year. This scholarship is catered for Syrian women, and I saw myself as a good fit for it.”

Judy is going to start her journey at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. She will be joining Laurier to study for her master’s degree in Applied Politics, where she will gain practical experience in placements with community organizations, local politicians and government agencies. In addition to becoming a researcher specializing in the Syrian conflict, Judy believes that when the timing is right, she will also pursue a Ph.D. to expand her knowledge.

Judy’s contagious drive and clear motivation make her the ideal fit for Jusoor’s scholar community of future changemakers. We are proud to welcome her and can’t wait to witness her incredible achievements.

Heba Hamzeh

Heba Hamzah graduated from Damascus University with a degree in economics. After graduation, and besides her career in finance, she occupied several roles in nongovernmental organizations. With this participation and for five years of time, she understood the major role that such organizations play in the social and economic development of Syria.

When Heba found her passion for development, she realized she wanted to pursue a master’s degree in Public Policy where she will have the chance to merge her experience in finance with her interest in nongovernmental organizations. She hopes to take part in aid and security programs like child protection, and human rights.

“I planned to pursue a master’s degree when I was in my first year of undergraduate studies. My supervisor encouraged me and told me that I am more than capable of achieving a good GPA and pursuing a master’s degree.”

Heba shares that despite her deep interest in getting into a master’s program, she didn’t find a suitable option in Syria that meets her expectations. More specifically, none of the Syrian universities offer a master’s in Public Policy. This is when she decided to channel her efforts to find an opportunity to study in Canada, a country that is well known for its peaceful approach to worldwide policies and understanding of human rights.

The new Jusoor scholar expanded on her observations of how the Syrian youth perceive their qualifications for engaging in international opportunities such as scholarships, or internships.

“In my first year in university, I always heard this statement. Why would any international institution accept a graduate from a Syrian university? I heard a lot of skepticism from Syrian students themselves doubting their qualifications and experiences.”  

Syrian females, in Heba’s words, are refraining from pursuing higher education despite being very qualified. Scholarships like the one Jusoor is offering can bridge the gap between Syrian students, especially females, and their unrealized potential. With efforts from Jusoor and individuals like Heba, who are promoting these opportunities can make a clear difference in the lives of many Syrian youths.

Heba believes that one form of giving back to Syria is for Syrian scholars to share their stories and experiences which can inspire the whole of the Syrian generation, a generation that is finding it difficult to believe in themselves, despite being resilient, determined, and qualified to pursue the highest of dreams, and the boldest of ambitions.

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