By Kelcey Norris
History is in the making at Youngstown State University as a citizen of Egypt has become the first student to study as a prestigious Fulbright scholar.
Dina Abdo is able to pursue her degree in the United States as a chosen recipient of one of the 8,000 grants offered by the Fulbright Program.
When looking on websites and researching the best programs, Abdo said YSU caught her attention because of its program variety and low tuition.
“YSU offers many scholarships to students. I just applied and was accepted for one the other day,” Abdo said. “YSU has always been a nice school. This major is not offered at all universities.”
Abdo said she was able to be immersed in Ohioan culture and learn from her fellow international students about the cultural differences.
“People here in Youngstown are really, really friendly,” she said. “There are many international students. I’ve met many people from Nigeria, Dominican Republic and Guatemala. It’s good to talk to all of these people and know about the struggles their countries are facing.”
Abdo said the transition to Youngstown was not as bad as some may think.
“Luckily, I’m used to traveling a lot. I’ve been traveling since I was 19,” Abdo said. “I’ve been to many countries and lived in a few. It’s not my first time in the U.S. either. I feel like I have a home in both places.”
Abdo is currently working toward a master’s degree in financial economics in hopes of enacting change closer to her home in Egypt.
“I want to be involved in finance and economics with data analysis,” she said. “I’m interested in fighting poverty, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa. Having this degree will help me to achieve this.”
Carly Devenburgh, assistant director of International Student Services at YSU, helps Abdo and other international students transition smoothly with no legal hassle.
“I issue all of the immigration documents for our students and scholars, correspond with them about the visa process prior to their arrival,” Devenburgh said. “I also hold the orientation program, which helps our students get settled in the United States on campus in a brand-new spot.”
Devenburgh said she is able to suggest available resources and people who can make the transition more comfortable during the orientation process.
“We also have another Egyptian student that started last spring, and so on her first day we picked up the phone and called him. I wanted to make sure that she was connected with him,” she said.
Although this is the first Fulbright scholar enrolled at YSU, Devenburgh said she has prior experience with the program’s scholars during her 15 years working with international students.
“I would definitely define Dina as a go-getter,” Devenburgh said. “She has definitely hit the ground running here at the university and is ready to immerse herself in her new space and her new program as a student and community member in Youngstown.”
Laneyah Pringle, a student at YSU, first met Abdo through mutual friends and said she was instantly captivated by her zest for life.
“The first thing I noticed about Dina is how beautiful she is, inside and out,” Pringle said. “Dina’s desire to do spontaneous things makes her unique.”
As a Fulbright scholar, her work ethic is also a characteristic Pringle noticed.
“If she wants something, she won’t stop until she gets it,” she said. “She is very motivated by her passions. Traveling the world and across the states is hard work; she needs to make money to do this, and she has no problem at all doing it.”
According to Pringle, Abdo’s ability to show kindness is her best quality.
“Dina is doing really well adjusting to America,” she said. “Overall she expressed that she loves it here and is fully enjoying it here. I think Dina is doing so well for herself, and she fits right in.”