Remarks for Ambassador David M. Hale
“USP Reception” at Haigazian University
- As Prepared -
Good morning Dr. Haidostian, Haigazian faculty and staff, and of course all the students present here today. It is a pleasure to join you this morning to celebrate the third year of the USAID University Scholarship Program. I am especially delighted to have the opportunity to meet and interact with such a group of impressive Lebanese youth and to hear from you about your plans and goals.
The United States recognizes the importance of education in preparing young people – preparing you - to successfully compete in the 21st century job market and contribute to the future of Lebanon. That’s why we have invested in you here at Haigazian. We believe that education encourages innovation, nurtures creativity and develops entrepreneurship.
You have proven us right today – shown that creativity - with your social business projects. Ideas and activities such as linking university students and major employers to reduce youth unemployment. This shows that you recognize the importance of both your own future and Lebanon’s economy. It also highlights some shared desires between people in Lebanon and the United States – desires for good jobs and a healthy economy.
I’ve also heard today about your projects that actively support women’s livelihoods in financially disadvantaged communities. Again, you’ve showed concern for your neighbors and also your commitment to helping all Lebanese take advantage of opportunities. This concern for others is also a value the U.S. and Lebanese share.
With your projects and your work at Haigazian, you prove that people can care for both themselves and others. That an individual can help a community and a community can help an individual.
And this is the spirit of University Scholarship Program: promoting a balance between personal entrepreneurship and social responsibility. A balance attentive to community needs, relevant to the public interest and meaningful for the development of Lebanon. And also meaningful to you. By learning about the local market place and the various challenges that Lebanon is facing, as Riva mentioned, you can step in to deal with those issues and find solutions that contribute to a prosperous Lebanon.
You have fine Lebanese role models to look toward for inspiration. For example, Ziad Sankari. Ziad is an alum of the U.S Fulbright Scholarship Program. When he was just 17 his father passed away from a heart attack. After his studies, Ziad began a company that developed a medical device that can monitor cardiac patients outside the hospital. The device alerts them if there are changes to their health that require medical attention. The company is now active in Lebanon and the U.S. and has 10 employees. This month, Ziad was named one of the country’s top 20 entrepreneurs by Lebanon’s Executive Magazine.
Ziad had a great idea, a good education and a lot of motivation to succeed. And he began this journey at about the same age as you.
Entrepreneurship has become a buzz word lately. But don’t let the popularity of the topic fool you. Entrepreneurship is not a fashion trend; it is one of the pillars of economic growth and social development. It helps in creating jobs, advancing innovation, and keeping the economy vibrant. From the time of the Phoenicians, Lebanon has a long and strong history of trade, of innovation and of business savvy that helped build this country. You are now the keepers of that history. I can see you have what it takes to be entrepreneurs: vision, discipline and unwavering passion to make yourselves and your country better.
The path to success is neither short nor easy. But remember that Google was founded by students like you. Remember, Ziad first had the idea for his company when he was a student like you. So, with passion, discipline, and a fearless outlook, you too can innovate and build on your ideas.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Dr. Haidostian and Haigazian University for working together with the United States Government to provide you, Lebanon’s outstanding youth, with the education and support to enable you to reach your full potential.”
Congratulations…best of luck for the coming year!