A refugee and humanitarian who helped survivors of the catastrophic Beirut explosion graduates with distinction from Heriot-Watt University today (Sat Dec 3).
Nahed Mansour is one of hundreds of students set to receive their academic awards during the Winter Graduation ceremonies being held this week.
The 34-year-old Palestinian, who has worked as a humanitarian for more than a decade, is unable to travel to Edinburgh to accept her scroll in person as she lives at the Beddawi Refugee Camp in Tripoli, north Lebanon alongside her parents and seven sisters.
Nahed’s positive outlook, determination and willingness to learn, exemplifies the essential characteristics required for our global EBS Online MBA programme
Determined to get an education, a career and improve the human rights and quality of life for Palestinian and Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon, Nahed was one of 20 students who successfully applied for the award-winning Lebanese Refugee Scholarship to study for a Master in Business Administration (MBA).
The MBA was delivered jointly by the Edinburgh Business School (EBS) at Heriot-Watt University and the children’s charity, Theirworld, which is committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation.
Reflecting on her two-years on the online programme, Nahed, said: “The MBA is the start of a new chapter in my life.
“I have gained practical information and knowledge that allows me to have more analytical and impactful management skills.
“Moreover, I am looking to start a PhD in Political and Humanitarian Studies that will empower me to have a louder voice and advocate for my community.”
Nahed’s passion for her humanitarian work has been inspired through her experience as refugee living in, what she describes as, one of Lebanon’s most deprived regions.
Despite this, Nahed was not going to let anything hold her back from completing her course.
“My insistence to complete my studies was my way of showing resistance and revolting against the situation; to show I am in control of my life, despite the external circumstances,” she said.
“Growing up in Lebanon as a Palestinian refugee has not been easy. There is a very high poverty rate made worse by the Lebanese government's denial of Palestinian refugee rights to be remunerated for employment, social security, public health care, public education and property ownership.”
To help others, Nahed has worked on projects that assist Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Her role as a project manager for a local aid organisation involved organising COVID19 awareness sessions to highlight the importance of home quarantine and social distancing. She also volunteers weekly to provide tailored education for children with disabilities.
It was in August 2020, the same month Nahed began her MBA that an enormous explosion shook the Lebanese capital, Beirut, making headlines around the world. Ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse exploded leading to the deaths of at least 218 people and more than 7000 injured.
Nahed travelled to the city to assist the injured and witnessed the devastation. She distributed first aid kits and held psychosocial support sessions for those affected by the blast.
Nahed describes the tragic event as ‘a dark day’ for the country, adding: “I had a mixed feeling of depression, anger, sadness, giving-up and frustration, I was away but yet the explosion impacted me deeply. However, the meeting with the survivors was very empowering and helped me to realise that I have a mission in my life to complete, to be part of the positive change and to support others to recover, restore and build a stronger society.”
Nahed finished by praising her experience of the Online MBA offered by the EBS.
“My experience was great, and while the programme was tough, it was also an unforgettable, amazing journey,” she said.
“I’m now able to look at things with a clearer understanding and better analysis. Although I completed my studies online, I felt that I was on campus. The learning platform is very interactive and accessible, the self-test exercise helped to examine the knowledge and preparing for exams.”
In total, five students are set to graduate from the Lebanese Refugee Scholarship programme this week with many others remaining on the course.
Professor Angus Laing, Executive Dean of Social Sciences and of the Edinburgh Business School, said: “Nahed’s positive outlook, determination and willingness to learn, exemplifies the essential characteristics required for our global EBS Online MBA programme.
“I am thrilled that despite her difficult circumstances, Nahed graduates from us with distinction. I, like many others connected to this programme, are extremely proud of her and of all the graduates who leave Heriot-Watt this week with their new academic qualifications.”
The EBS Online MBA offers flexible study options meaning anyone in the world can gain a qualification without the need to be physically be on campus.
It covers key management disciplines, including delivering successful projects, developing & executing strategy, economics for business, financial decision making, leadership theory & practice, people, work & organisation and strategic marketing.
To find out more about the Scholarships currently offered at the EBS visit its website.