37 Refugee Students Enrolled in the Qatar-American Scholarship for Afghans Project (QSAP) Graduate at Bard College

IIE celebrates the success of the QSAP graduates, and recognizes the continued work of the QSAP program to support Afghan students to safely pursue higher education journeys in the U.S.

NEW YORK, May 25, 2024 – Thirty-seven Afghan refugee students supported by the Qatar-American Scholarship for Afghans Project (QSAP) are participating in a graduation ceremony at Bard College today as part of the 2024 Bard College and American University of Central Asia (AUCA) graduating classes. Students will receive degrees in a wide range of programs and majors, including business, economics, software engineering, media science, law, human rights, and political science.

As part of Bard College’s celebration, a special pre-commencement event on Saturday, May 25 from 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at the Olin Humanities Building will honor the largest group of QSAP students graduating at a single ceremony this spring. These graduates are joined by an additional 18 AUCA students at Bard College supported directly under U.S. Department of State programming, as well as 26 Afghan students supported by QSAP who are graduating this spring at 12 institutions around the U.S. Their achievements demonstrate the power of global cooperation to protect access to education in the face of conflict and crisis and underscore the value of programs like QSAP.

“Our team at the U.S. Mission to Afghanistan is proud to continue to support the education of Afghan scholars around the world,” said Counselor for Public Affairs, Mario Crifo. He also added his congratulations to the graduates reminding them to “celebrate this moment, share your joy, and know that you are strong. Your strength brought you to this point and it will help you in the years to come. We wish all Afghan scholars safety, happiness, and success on the road ahead.”

Just some of the Bard College graduates’ accomplishments include: an economics major from Kabul co-founded a website to connect Afghan job seekers with employers. She named the website, “Forsat,” after the Persian word for opportunity. A film major, also from Kabul, celebrated the screening of her documentary film about Afghan refugees in Kyrgyzstan in May last year. And a software engineering student from Wardak hopes to continue volunteering at a local NGO that works with refugees and internally displaced people in Bishkek.

“Congratulations to the QSAP students graduating from Bard and other colleges and universities across the U.S.,” said Jonah Kokodyniak, Executive Vice President of IIE. “Today marks a huge accomplishment for these young people. Not only have they overcome significant adversity to earn their degrees, but they have made numerous contributions to their university communities and are poised to take on future leadership positions. We at IIE have been honored to support these talented students and to work with the program’s partners and word-class higher education institutions like Bard College to help them realize their full potential.”

UNHCR estimates that more than 1.6 million Afghans have fled the country since 2021, bringing the total number of Afghans in neighboring countries to 5.3 million – accounting for one of the largest protracted refugee situations in the world. QSAP makes it possible to safely pursue higher education. For Afghan women, who make up half of the program’s cohort, the program offers a path to a future that is no longer possible in their home country. QSAP scholarships, in combination with the generous support of host institutions, cover tuition, fees, and living expenses for awarded students from Afghanistan.

“The graduation of dozens of students evacuated from Afghanistan three years ago from leading American universities and colleges is a moment for celebration,” said Yalda Hakim, Co-Founder and Board member of the Afghan Future Fund. “AFF applauds the achievement of these young people, and we are honored to support them on their journey through this visionary scholarship program. While we celebrate this milestone for our scholarship recipients, we must remember that millions of young people, especially women and girls, continue to be denied an education in Afghanistan. AFF is committed to finding ways to help them learn and achieve their potential.”

“The graduation of QSAP scholars is a celebration of more than academic achievements; it symbolizes the resilience and indomitable spirit of each student. Their journey from adversity to accomplishment highlights the transformative power of education and the paths of hope and possibility it creates. At Education Above All Foundation, we are immensely proud to support these brilliant minds, who are destined to make significant contributions to their communities and the world at large,” said Talal Al Hothal, Director of the Al Fakhoora Programme, Education Above All Foundation.

The world’s refugee crisis is not subsiding, nor are the hardships facing the Afghan people. QSAP is actively working to find creative and sustainable ways to make space for and support these inspirational young people. They will shape the future of their nations and our global community, and their achievements today are a testament of this progress and sustained commitment.

To learn more about QSAP, our students, the partners and host institutions, visit http://qsap.org.

About QSAP

The Qatar-American Scholarship for Afghans Project (QSAP) encompasses several scholarship programs supporting displaced Afghan students to continue their academic studies outside of Afghanistan.

The first cohort of the program is supported through a collaboration between The Afghan Future Fund (AFF), Schmidt Futures, Education Above All, the Yalda Hakim Foundation, the Institute of International Education (IIE), and the Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD).

The second cohort of the program includes students supported by the U.S. Department of State through scholarship programs for Afghans at the American University of Central Asia and the American University in Beirut.

The program welcomed an initial cohort of 250 students, split equally among women and men. The second cohort welcomed 21 students to the United States so far, with a goal of supporting 200 additional students in total. The partnership is built on a mutual belief that access to education is essential, fundamental, and lifesaving. Learn more about QSAP and the partnership here.

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