Barnard Responds to Syrian Crisis Through Creation of the Ann and Andrew Tisch Scholarship for Refugee Women

immigrationeducationfellowships & grantsstudents Beginning in the fall of 2017, Barnard will offer a newly funded scholarship called the Ann and Andrew Tisch Scholarship for Refugee Women.  The scholarship will be awarded annually, and a student whose education has been interrupted as a result of war, persecution, conflict, natural disaster, or crisis will be able to attend Barnard through a generous gift to Barnard’s endowment from the Ann and Andrew Tisch family. The scholarship covers the full financial needs of the student for all four years of her undergraduate career, including tuition, housing, meals, books, travel, and stipends for internships and other co-curricular activities.

“There’s an old saying that when you affect an individual, you affect a world,” explains Ann Tisch, “and that is our intention here.”

Over 20 years ago, Ann Tisch had the vision to provide students growing up in low-income communities with a high-quality college preparatory education modeled on the finest private schools. She is the founder and president of Young Women’s Leadership Network, an organization that operates the Young Women’s Leadership Schools, a network of 18 all-girls public schools around the country, and CollegeBound Initiative, a coed college access program serving more than 18,000 students across New York City.  Her husband, Andrew Tisch, is co-chairman of Loews Corporation and is currently writing a book about immigration. They are the parents of a Barnard student.

Having been deeply involved in educating girls and young women, the Tisches see the scholarship as “a natural extension of our work over the past two decades. Bringing this to Barnard is among the most exciting things we’ve done, and we are thrilled about it.”

This scholarship began as a glimmer of an idea in the mind of senior Maia Bix ’17. In the fall of 2016, Bix met with Debora Spar, then the president of Barnard, to express her frustration that Barnard had not engaged in a meaningful way with the Syrian refugee crisis and with “the complex educational challenges that arise in these contexts of mass displacement.”  Spar told Bix that the issue was weighing on her as well and requested that Bix draft a proposal on what the College could do. “I don’t know what I expected when I walked into her office,” says Bix, “but her response was so affirming.  In true Barnard fashion, she empowered me as a student to really take initiative.” 

Bix researched what other higher education institutions were doing. “Ultimately I settled on the idea of a scholarship because it’s a concrete, impactful response that also furthers the College’s mission, is true to our values, and matches our capacity.  A scholarship is something that plays to our strengths—making higher education accessible to women who otherwise would have little to no access.”

She spoke with Giorgio DiMauro, Dean of International and Global Strategy, and fellow student Yasemin Akcaguner ’17, who connected Bix with Students Organize for Syria, a Barnard/Columbia organization. There she met Alema Begum ’18, who runs the Barnard/Columbia Books not Bombs campaign, and Nadine Fattaleh CC ’17, who has been working

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