Ford Scholars Share Stories of Opportunity & Personal Growth

Ford Scholars Share Stories of Opportunity & Personal Growth

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Avi Criden
October 18, 2013

When asked about her reasons for coming to Washington, D.C., Sarah Bashraheel, Ford Global scholar and student from the San Diego area, who attends Fairleigh Dickinson University, humbly answered: “to gain independence.” As a young Saudi woman, Sarah’s journey to D.C. is as much a symbolic triumph over cultural restrictions as it is an exercise in burgeoning professionalism. For Sarah, following her heart and doing it alone is not something she can take for granted. Through TWC’s leadership forum, her Model UN activities, and her intensive internship at Innovations for Global Participation, Sarah can now do what she wants: asking questions, establishing her own path, and becoming independent.


Stories such as Sarah’s were voiced when the Ford Motor Company Global Scholars students met with TWC board member and Ford Motor Company Group Vice President, Ziad Ojakli, for lunch on October 7th at Toscana West. Ten American and eight international students all shared their stories and personal journeys to the nation's capital. Whether from Chennai, Detroit, St. Petersburg, Dallas, Shanghai, or San Diego, each student presented his or her own unique story - some humorous and full of adventure, and others more subtle, or fused with charm and exuberance. Stories included a girl from Baton Rouge taking a guy from Chennai to eat his first taco in America or a Chinese student from Shanghai venturing out and living alone in the United States, experiencing everything American for the very first time. The stories they told are those of aspiring young leaders seeking opportunity, personal growth, and more importantly, the tools and expertise to change the world in a tangible and positive way.


Sam McCaughey from the University of Rhode Island told Mr. Ojakli that although he always knew what he was interested in, the Ford Global Scholars Program has granted him with direction. Sam now wants to go into the field of international development.


During their conversation with Mr. Ojakli, the group discussed issues pertaining to philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and Ford's international endeavors. Yet perhaps the most noteworthy part of the conversation came when Mr. Ojakli addressed the issue of finding passion in one’s work. He stated that, “making a difference makes one feel good; to go beyond just making a profit.” This resonated with the group, many of whom contemplate the best way to embark on a career that can make social impact while also enjoying financial success. As Mr. Ojakli continuously stressed, “the balance is there…just follow your passion.”


After lunch, students showed their sincere appreciation to Mr. Ojakli's efforts and for the unparalleled opportunity to experience D.C. first-hand. The group took a photo together and met just a few hours later at TWC’s Annual Gala.

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