Ameen Rihani Organization
"I heard the Phoenician describe the benefits of his Cedar wood to the Pharaoh in Egypt. The wood is robust, colorful, aromatic, decorative, weathered, and resistant to termites. This wood is magical – it is soft as glass, and beautiful as a rose."
Ameen Rihani, 1939
.: 2003 Rihani Scholarship Recipients

2003 marks the first award year associated with the Ameen Rihani Scholarship program. The Ameen Rihani Organization (A.R.O.) received numerous applications representing a wide spectrum of Arab ancestry and states. The qualifications of several candidates were outstanding rendering the selection process that much more difficult. Young men and women of Lebanese, Egyptian, Palestinian, Sudanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Saudi and Tunisian descent competed vigourosly for this scholarship. These candidates reside in 12 different states and represent all geographic regions of the United States. Despite the fact that this scholarship is designed to be awarded to only one candidate each year, the Scholarship Selection Committee was faced with the unexpected challenge to choose one individual from a list of several highly talented and qualified young adults. The committee concluded that an exception will be made this year whereby two individuals, instead of one, will receive this award. Thus two $1,500 scholarships will be awarded in 2003.

We are very pleased and proud to announce that the winners of the 2003 Ameen Rihani Scholarship are Hani Nazih Nakhoul of Metairie, Louisiana, and Nicolas Iskandar El-Hage of New York, NY.


Hani Nazih Nakhoul Hani Nazih Nakhoul

Hani earns the first Ameen Rihani Scholarship following an impressive performance at school and a great character reputation that he has been able to so subconsciously develop. He has just completed his senior year of high school at Metairie Park Country Day School in Metairie, Louisiana, and will be entering his Freshman year in the fall of 2003 at Harvard. Born in the U.S. in 1985 to Lebanese parents, Hani has grown to be "a brilliant, kind, genius, profound, humble and humanitarian" person - to use his teachers' own words. Along with his outstanding performance in all subject matters and an astounding 3.99 cumulative GPA, Hani has managed to be heavily involved in several extracurricular and community activities. He has been a member of the school's cross-country and track teams, student government, drama club, and has developed a love for music as he plays the piano, and is a member of the school's choir and jazz band. He has won several music related competitions and awards such as the Directors' Award for Outstanding Musicianship, the NOMTA Sonata Contest, and the Ursuline Academy Bach Competition. Academically, Hani has enjoyed an equal share of honors and recognitions, such as the Literary Rally award, 1st place state overall in Advanced Math, 2nd place state overall in Biology, 2nd place in National French Contest, 1st place in National Spanish Exam, AP Scholar with Distinction, National Merit Scholar, Member of the Cum Laude Society, and the Harvard Book Prize.

The one thing that distinguishes Hani the most is the type of person that people perceive in him. The following are some quotations from his teachers that best reflect his outstanding character, "Meeting and getting to know Hani changes one's perception of the limitations of human intellect"; "Hani is a treasure and the best student in my teaching career of 35 years"; "With everyone always praising his talents, one would assume that Hani would be somewhat conceited and haughty - on the contrary, he respects his peers and the faculty and often times is modest to an extreme"; "Sadly, I know that I will never again experience the joy of having such a student as Hani - this can only happen once in a career"; While he knows more about the subject matter than most of his teachers, he is never challenging"; "I know that my life is changed from the experience of knowing Hani these past four years"; "This young man is going places, without a doubt"; and "Harvard is lucky to have him"!

Hani wants to become a professor at institutions of higher education. He is truly an outstanding student and person, and is well deserving of the first Ameen Rihani Scholarship award. Congratulations!




Nicolas Iskandar El-Hage Nicolas Iskandar El-Hage

Nicolas has just completed his senior year of high school at the Birch Wathen Lenox School in New York City. Born in Monterey, California in 1985 to a Lebanese father and an American mother from Cortland, New York, Nicolas plans on starting his Freshman year at Columbia University in New York in the fall of 2003. Along with an impressive performance scholastically (cumulative GPA of 3.87), Nicolas has contributed in an amazing fashion to his community. He has served as an Intern at Senator Hillary Clinton's office, and at the New York District Attorney's office, a responsibility rarely afforded to a high school student. Among the many other extracurricular activities, Nicolas has been the Tutoring Chair at his school, a member of the S.E. Asian Nations Regional Forum, Model UN at Harvard, a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions, a member of the Legal Issues Committee, the Editor-in-Chief of the school's yearbook, Editor and Contributor to the school's newspaper, and a founding member of "The Manhattan Writer's Project". He has also won several awards and honors such as the IBM Thomas J. Watson Memorial Scholarship, the Yale University Book Award, and the Outstanding Student of America recognition, and has been invited to participate in the Junior Statesmen Summer School, the National Youth Forum on Law, and the Presidential Classroom.

Nicolas has big aspirations for his professional career. He wants to pursue a law degree and hopes to eventually work in the White House or for the State Department. He plans to have a significant influence on foreign policy, especially as it relates to the Middle East. He also wants to head a center that promotes peace and conflict resolution, and is keen on cultivating intercultural communication between the East and the West, an endeavor that was so dear to Ameen Rihani.

Nicolas is another outstanding student and visionary, and is equally deserving of the first Ameen Rihani Scholarship award. Congratulations!