Guest Blogger Leslye Arsht

Dear friends and former colleagues,

Last summer I made the acquaintance of five Iraqi students who were chosen as winners of the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY) competition. They were an exceptionally bright and motivated group, and were the first representatives from Iraq in the program’s 40-plus year history.

I was particularly impressed by a young woman named Diana who sat at my table during the closing dinner. Diana charmed me with her earnest enthusiasm for what she had experienced during her week in Washington DC -and her hopes and ambitions for the future. She wanted to come to the US for college. After corresponding with Diana for some weeks, I decided to help.

As a trustee at Franklin Pierce College, a four-year liberal arts college in Rindge, NH with a unique focus on the relationship between the individual and community, I thought this was the right place to start.

I am excited to report that Diana, the young Iraqi woman I met in Washington, met the entrance requirements and was accepted at Franklin Pierce College for the coming fall. Then, this month, I was awarded the Good Housekeeping magazine Women in Government Award and have donated $12,000 of that prize to initiate a new scholarship (the Freedom Fund Scholarship) at Franklin Pierce for a student from a country making the transition to self-government. A total of $40,000($10,000 per year) will support non-tuition costs of one student through his or her studies at Franklin Pierce College.

In the future, this scholarship could benefit students from Afghanistan, Palestine, Bosnia / Croatia, independence-seeking Russian republics and other countries. It is my hope that those who benefit from this scholarship will take what they learn about America, about participatory government, and about individual responsibility, and use this to become part of their country’s future leadership. That is why I am writing to you. I hope that those of you who worked in Iraq, or who followed my journey there and back, will want to include this new scholarship fund in your immediate charitable giving. I see offering education to deserving students as another level of insurance, a promise that the freedom now on the march in so many places will continue well past our current lifetimes.

Please join me in supporting the Freedom Fund Scholarship by donating online or sending your check, made out to Franklin Pierce College, and designated to the Freedom Fund Scholarship to Evelyn Buchanan, VP College Relations, 20 College Road, Rindge, NH 03461. Or call 603.899.1132.

Thank you, in advance, for your generosity. Your donation is tax deductible and you will receive a formal notification from the college.

All the best,

Leslye Arsht

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