Dear Vela Team, 01/09/2021 I hope this letter meets you in good health. I was thrilled when I heard about the VELA scholarship. Despite my excitement to be joining the University of Freiburg as a Graduate Computer Science Student this fall, I continue to have significant worries regarding my finances while studying. I hope that this letter could help explain how I qualify for this scholarship and the significant effects that it would have on my graduate school experience and career as a student from Lebanon.
Growing up in Beirut, I have always had a passion for programming and artificial intelligence (AI). I was lucky to be selected for a full need-based scholarship to complete my undergraduate degree in Computer Science at the prestigious American University of Beirut. Shortly after my graduation, I started working as a software developer at “GlobeMed”, a leading third-party administrator company in Lebanon. Through this position I was able to put most of my studies into practice while being introduced to the complex and intriguing world of insurance companies. I made it a goal to save a significant amount of my salary to be able to pursue graduate studies in Germany in the year 2020.
When my savings reached the needed budget, the ongoing economic crisis exacerbated exponentially in Lebanon and all dollar bank deposits became illegally inaccessible overnight. Lebanese people including myself were left with a devastating dramatic reality: Our hard-earned dollars are hostages to a corrupt failing country. The months that followed included an unprecedented collapse in the value of the Lebanese currency where it lost 90% of its value, hyperinflation, total blackouts, lack of medications, lack of gasoline and the third worst explosion in the history of humanity which wiped off half of my hometown and house.
While leaving Beirut to pursue an evolving career was a plan I made years ago, I never expected to be with no savings when it was time to leave. In the months following the Beirut blast, I found solace within books about technology, economics, and philosophy. As I spent my days in the library of the American University of Beirut, I came across a book called “The Black Swan”. Through this book, I started understanding the impact of highly improbable events throughout history. I soon realized that the collapse of my country and the loss of my savings could be the start of a beautiful new era in my life. Determined to find a better life, I made it a priority to complete many relevant and free computer science certificates online. I built my LinkedIn profile and started searching for the best graduate programs in computer science. After a year of self-development, I burst into tears of joy as I read my letter of acceptance to the University of Freiburg.
I was allowed to access my savings but only after they lost 70% of their original value. I am spending all this money to finance my first year in Germany to start off my graduates’ studies. I am taking that risk with the unwavering belief that pursing my passion in computer science and AI in Germany will allow me to shine away from the corruption and the conflict in my hometown. Completing this masters program will put me on the path to work in the field of AI in healthcare and insurance where I will use my education and work experience to contribute to the fourth industrial revolution in a leading country like Germany.
I hope that my background and persistence have showed the impact that the VELA scholarship will have on my career. The German government and private institutions have always been generous donors to students coming from areas of conflict and severe scarcity like myself. This scholarship will not only help me meet basic needs but also motivate me to thrive and rise from my challenging reality.
I hope to hear back from you, and I am ready to provide any references if needed. Thank you for your consideration,
Abdul Rahman El Kebbi