Wanting to address the global crisis from within his community, Usher started to explore options among his Columbia colleagues. After intensive research and feasibility studies he came up with the idea to provide Syrian students who were displaced from the war, and had their education disrupted, to study at Columbia with free tuition, free housing and a stipend for living expenses. He presented his idea to the late Dean Emeritus of General Studies, Peter Awn.

Awn loved the idea and guaranteed spots for two students. That cemented, what is now called, the Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students . Other schools within the university got on board increasing the number to seven.

Qutaiba Idlbi with classmate at Columbia

Usher traveled with Columbia Business School students to Lebanon to meet with members from the UN. He said he was a bit sheepish approaching the UN with such a small number of scholarships. The UN team was immediately receptive to the idea. Even if they only had one scholarship to offer a deserving student, they would be most grateful because no other university was creating this type of program.

The seven Syrian Fellows have been so successful The Columbia Global Centers expanded the Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students to 30. The program is accepting applications from students from any country in conflict including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela and others.

To learn more about the scholarship, click here.

For more international scholarship opportunities check out Scholarships4Dev, here.

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