A Palestinian refugee who cared for the injured in the wake of a massive explosion in Beirut has graduated from a Scots university.
Nahed Mansour, a refugee and humanitarian, helped survivors of the catastrophe in August 2020.
She graduates on Saturday with a distinction from Heriot-Watt University along with hundreds of students during the Winter graduation ceremonies.
However, the 34-year-old, 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 was one of 20 students who successfully applied for the award-winning Lebanese Refugee Scholarship to study for a Master in Business Administration (MBA).
She was determined to get an education and career and work to improve the human rights and quality of life Palestinian and Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon.
Her 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.
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 humanitarian work was inspired by her own experience living as a refugee.
She lived in what she has described as one of Lebanon’s most deprived regions and said that, despite the challenges, she was determined not to let anything hold her back from completing her studies.
She said: “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.
“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.”
Nahed has worked on projects which assist Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
She was involved in the organisation of coronavirus awareness sessions which highlighted the importance of home quarantine and social distancing while in the role pf project manager for a local aid organisation.
In August of 2020, when the devastating explosion occurred in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Nahed, who had just begun her MBA, travelled to the city to assist the injured.
The incident was cause by the explosion of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse which led to the deaths of at least 218 people and more than 7000 injured.
Nahed witnessed the devastation caused to the city and distributed first aid kits to those affected.
She also held psychosocial support sessions to help people deal with the tragedy.
She said the event was a “dark day” for the country but that the stories of survivors was “empowering”.
She said: “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.”
Commenting on her academic experience while completing her MBA online, she said: “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.”
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 on campus.
More information about the scholarships is offered on the EBS website.