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Nancy Awad ’20 Gives Inside Look on Lang Opportunity Scholar Project

Nancy Awad '20

Ever wonder what exactly goes into a Lang Opportunity Scholarship (LOS)

Nancy Awad ’20, a political science and peace & conflict studies major from Chantilly, Va., gives a first-person account of her project, which teaches computer literacy to orphaned young women in Upper Egypt.

The application deadline for the next class of Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarships is Monday, Oct. 21 at noon ET.

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Hi, everyone! My name is Nancy Awad ’20, and I am a Lang Opportunity Scholar (LOS) from Chantilly, Va., majoring in political science and peace & conflict studies.

First of all, you may be wondering what an LOS project is. Fully funded by Swarthmore College and the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, the program each year selects members of Swarthmore’s sophomore class as Lang Scholars. Selection criteria include distinguished academic and co-curricular achievement, leadership qualities, and demonstrated commitment to civic and social responsibility. This program offers a diverse range of benefits including a $10,000 grant, a designated adviser, and networking opportunities to support the development of a project that creates a needed social resource in the U.S. or abroad. The program was conceived and endowed by Eugene M. Lang ’38, H’81.

Nancy Awad '20 sits in front of whiteboard with diagrams

The summer after my junior year, I finally implemented my project. For well over a year, I had been creating the Benat Seshat Initiative, a social program whose mission is to help empower and educate orphaned girls in Upper Egypt through digital literacy skills and self-advocacy. Named for the Ancient Egyptian goddess of knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence, Benat Seshat (or “Daughters of Seshat”) encourages participants to walk in her footsteps, in hopes of instilling the same love and commitment for learning in Egypt’s young women.

Benat Seshat logo of Egyptian woman with computer

One of the hardest challenges was finding a technology supplier that was willing to ship 10 desktop computers to a rural village in Upper Egypt. But if there’s a will, there’s a way!

Benat Seshat logo of Egyptian woman with computer

Our digital literacy goals were met through a 20-day pilot program, which ran twice during summer 2019, during July and August. Each month, there were two sessions of the class being taught—one in the morning, one in the evening—to accommodate for the participants’ varying schedules. The month of June was spent preparing classroom equipment.

Benat Seshat logo of Egyptian woman with computer

The project was a huge success! The first pilot program resulted in 40 young women successfully completing the program and attaining Microsoft digital literacy certification. Final certificate distribution and new teacher training will occur over winter break.

Benat Seshat logo of Egyptian woman with computer

The Benat Seshat Initiative also received a lot of local media coverage from publications such as Cairo 360, Egyptian Streets, The Egypt Independent, and StepFeed.

Thank you for following me on my journey! This was truly one of the most meaningful summers of my life. If you have a project in mind or an issue area that you are passionate about, apply to the LOS program.

Submissions Welcome

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