Thanks to contributions from generous donors, we advance life-transforming educational programs that improve the lives of over 300,000 people worldwide, and targeted major gifts enable us to offer maximum educational value to those who need it most.
One type of gift with a direct personal benefit is a scholarship fund for students, such as the one set up by the Briess family for students at Tel Hai Technological College in Israel. Part of the World ORT Kadima Mada technical colleges network, the college is located just a few kilometers from the northern border with Lebanon and offers a variety of practical engineering, architecture and information technology study tracks.
Through theoretical and practical classroom instruction and interactive hands-on training, students – who come from nearby under-served communities – obtain knowledge and skills for employment in Israel’s high-tech sectors. But many students cannot afford the tuition, and must contend with the possibility of suspending their studies or dropping out. This scholarship helps pay tuition, enabling recipients to focus on their education and progress.
At a special ceremony in March, seven Tel Hai students with excellent grades were awarded a Briess scholarship to continue in computer software engineering with an emphasis on cyber studies. The diverse recipients reflect the college community: Druze, Arab-Muslim, and Jewish. But the scholarship is not only for their benefit; as part of its requirements, the students are expected to volunteer as tutors to peers challenged in their studies, thereby increasing academic achievement and ensuring a greater number of graduates.
Osama Bebar, 23, grew up in the Druze village Yanuh–Jat in northern Israel, about 50 miles away from the college. The middle son, with two sisters and two brothers, he graduated from high school after majoring in Hebrew, Arabic and environmental studies. Osama talks about those years. “High school wasn’t so good; I didn’t have an option to learn math at a high level, and we didn’t have computer labs and computer studies,” he relates. In 2015 he completed his army service, then worked at a gas station. “I’ve been interested in this since high school, and army service deepened my interest. I worked closely with a team of engineers and learned quite a lot, and that pushed me to cyber studies – a challenging profession,” Osama explains. Now in his second year of the software engineering track, he’s very grateful for the scholarship. “I would like to thank World ORT Kadima Mada for the scholarship. Usually engineering students don’t have many opportunities to win a scholarship. This is very helpful and a big boost to my motivation.”
Twice a week Osama tutors freshmen students from the Arab sector in math. “These students had poor achievement in math and difficulty with Hebrew, so I sit with them, explain the math, help them understand and help them overcome their difficulties. And they are improving, thanks to our sessions,” he says. Osama looks ahead. “In the future, I hope to do something with Kadima Mada, or volunteer for anything needed.” He would like “to find an interesting job related to cyber studies, work for a year or two, and then go on to study information systems.”
Another Briess Family scholarship recipient is Zohar Cohen, 22, who is completing her first year in the software engineering track. She says, “I have a brother who studied cyber, so I decided to try it and am enjoying it very much.”
Recently married, Zohar lives in Kiryat Shmona, where she attended a high school for religious girls. After serving in the national service she worked for two years as a medical secretary at a hospital in Afula, then as a deputy manager of a gas station, a post she gave up to attend college. Zohar appreciates the support of the teaching staff. “It’s a small place, which is a great advantage because we are close to our lecturers. Everyone is addressed personally by the staff. The lecturers do everything they can to help – they really want us to succeed. It feels like family.” She reflects on the scholarship. “It’s tremendously helpful. I stopped working because of my studies, and it took my husband quite some time to find a job. This scholarship was income that was essential for us.” She envisions moving to Afula with her husband. “My first priority is to complete my studies, then I’ll find my way into the cyber industry.”
Roza Carem, 19, was born and raised in Eilabun, an Arab town about 40 miles from the college, where she still lives. She has two older sisters and a brother, and works at a hotel in Kfar Giladi, less than a mile away from the college. In high school Roza majored in biology, chemistry and English. Now in her first year of the software engineering track with a focus on cyber studies, Roza is one of only four women. She recounts the beginning of her college experience. “It was a bit hard at first, but now it’s OK,” Roza says. She describes the college ambience. “There’s a good atmosphere on campus. Everyone wants to help, and people like studying together,” she shares. Like Osama, she tutors other students, adding, “I help those with difficulties in mathematics, who find math intimidating.” And like Osama, after she completes the college program she plans to continue her studies.
Osama, Zohar and Roza can make the most of their college education as a result of the Briess family scholarship, and they are helping other students overcome obstacles to learning to benefit as well. In this very generous way, a scholarship fund not only empowers students to reach their potential, but allows many to profit from their ORT education.