Though we were truly overwhelmed by the caliber of students who applied to our scholarship, one applicant especially stood out for her courage, bravery and awe-inspiring determination: Noor Al Huda Al Ghezi and once we met her, we knew we wanted to award her with our first scholarship ever.

Noor graduated from Everett High School, right here in the state of Washington, and she will be attending the University of Washington, Seattle, in the Fall. While she has the same hopes and dreams of any college student, her story is both tragically and triumphantly different from most. As a Syrian refugee, Noor had endured and survived the war that has, in her own words, “destroyed homes and families, the war that kept people apart with its barbarian hands, the war that demolished the innocent dreams of the Syrian kids. This war had vanished my humble dreams, kidnapped my cousins, killed my friends, destroyed my home and left me alone in this miserable cold world. Yet, I won’t set down and wait for it to ruin my entire life, I will work harder than ever to hold the hammer of knowledge and destroy this outrageous monster.”

Amidst the violence of war, and during one particularly harrowing experience, Noor found comfort in the stories and words of her favorite poet, Kahlil Gibran:

“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.” (The Prophet, 1923).

Her favorite poet also helped her remain determined – and hopeful – that regardless of how much suffering she had been through, a delightful tomorrow awaits to ease the most painful memories of the Syrian civil war. The war also helped shape and inform her in powerful ways. Noor shared that the “war had awakened the strongest version of me and crystalize it to face every pitfall of this life. And now while I’m on the soils of the land of freedoms, I will show the world that I’m able to make difference with my tremendous aspiration toward knowledge.

After her family fled to Lebanon, Noor joined the Jussor Organization as a children’s entertainer and nurse assistant for Syrian refugees, an experience that inspired her passion for medicine and her goal to become a pediatric surgeon. The medical field is not new to Noor’s family, as her uncle is one of the most successful cardiologists in Syria and her brother entered medical school in Damascus.

We were so inspired by Noor’s story and personal statement, and delighted to meet her in person. We wish her the best of luck in her studies and look forward to seeing her achieve her goals.