Aiducation – Tahreer Alzaeem

by MainGate Staff
Fall 2020/Winter 2021

Tahreer Alzaeem was living in Gaza and preparing for her 12th grade final exams when she learned that she had won a full scholarship to AUB. “I did not know anything about AUB back then,” she remembers. Growing up, her dream had been to study medicine in Gaza, but her family urged her to go to AUB. So she did, even though it wasn’t easy. Because of the strict restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in Gaza, she arrived on campus 20 days after the beginning of the fall term.

Her AUB journey has not been easy either. “Those of us from Yemen, Syria, and Palestine are not able to go home to see our families the way other students do,” she says. To make up for this, Tahreer relies heavily on the support of other AUB students. “We became one family that would always be there for one another through thick and thin.”

In January 2019, Tahreer was one of 16 Palestinian students who was told that they would no longer be eligible for comprehensive MEPI-TL scholarships. AUB made a commitment to those students that they would be able to continue at AUB until they graduated—and then launched a fundraising appeal. Hundreds of donors responded quickly to support students like Tahreer, including Sabih Masri, who established the Sabih Masri Scholarship.

“What I will always cherish about my time at AUB,” says Tahreer, who graduated with a BA in psychology in June 2020, “is not only the quality of education it provides, but also the exposure to different cultures/beliefs/identities/personalities/religions/ideas. This exposure helped me widen my horizons and made me tolerate, accept, and respect every human being no matter how different they are from me. If I were to choose again whether to continue my studies at AUB
or back home, I would always make the same decision I made four years ago, for it made me the person I am today.”

As for her future plans, Tahreer is hoping to
do a master’s degree in the field of child and adolescent mental health. “I want to make a difference in the field of mental health back home by focusing on devising new ways through which mental health can be provided to the victims of war trauma and their families,” she says.