Our Three Winners Continue to Make a Positive Impact

The Our Three Winners Fund was established last February to honor the legacy of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha.

Thanks to generous donors, an endowment to fund scholarships in memory of three outstanding NC State University students who died tragically last February continues to grow, in order to support scholars in perpetuity.

In a little less than a year, gifts and pledges from 713 donors from across the United States and from several foreign countries to the Our Three Winners Fund have totaled nearly $306,000. The ongoing strong response means that the number and value of scholarships may continue to increase beyond the six awarded for this year.

Chancellor Randy Woodson announced creation of the endowment – initiated through a $60,000 gift from the chancellor’s discretionary fund – last February 20 to honor Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha.

Inaugural recipients of Our Three Winners scholarships valued at $2,000 for 2015-16, and their majors, included:

  • Nicole Adam of Hickory, environmental design in architecture
  •  Wajeha Barakat of Raleigh, business administration
  • Charles Eaton of Raleigh, environmental design in architecture
  • Sarah McCain Grant of Oak Island, business administration
  • Olivia Kehoe of Charlotte, biological sciences
  • Sam Loomis of Cary, physics and mathematics
Sam Loomis
Sam Loomis

“I was deeply humbled upon hearing I had received the scholarship, and even more so after meeting the Barakat and Abu-Salha families,” said Loomis, a senior and Caldwell Fellow who hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and become a professor. “Their compassion and conviction following such great loss serves as a model for us all, in every season of life.”

Flanked by members of both families, Woodson said at the news conference announcing the fund’s creation that the scholarships ensure that the three lost members of the Wolfpack community will be remembered as role models – outstanding academically and in their efforts to make the world a better place.

“We also intend this scholarship to be a forever reminder that NC State must always hold as a core value a respect for diversity in all its forms and strive to maintain an environment where everyone feels safe, respected and valued,” the chancellor said.

Our Three Winners scholarships support students in the colleges attended by Deah, Yusor and Razan, and reflect some of the trio’s passions. Barakat, 23, earned a degree in business management with honors from the Poole College of Management before enrolling at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Dentistry. Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, graduated in December 2014 with a degree in biological sciences from the College of Sciences and had received her acceptance to join Deah, her husband of six weeks, in dental school. Yusor’s younger sister, Razan, 19, was a sophomore architecture student in the College of Design.

Management scholarships are designated for students who display leadership in school, community, civic or other organizations. Design scholarships go to students who demonstrate creative achievement and scholarships for Sciences students are awarded based on commitment to voluntarism.

Loomis, for example, volunteers regularly at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, greeting and supervising Living Conservatory visitors and answering their questions. He also enjoys volunteering with Satellite, an annual weeklong science and technology camp for high school sophomores hosted on campus by the Caldwell Fellows.

Grant has been active in the student ambassador program at Poole College of Management, including serving as president this year. A senior with a concentration in marketing and a minor in parks, recreation and tourism management, she completed a Raleigh Convention Center internship in events marketing and planning that included work on the Wide Open Bluegrass festival. She said receiving the scholarship has had a major impact.

It has reminded me to celebrate life and to maintain a strong purpose, the way that Deah, Yusor and Razan did. While I did not know them personally, their remarkable impact resonated throughout the NC State community and taught me how strong a group of people can be when faced with adversity.

Sarah McCain Grant

Olivia Kehoe
Olivia Kehoe

The scholarship has made a similar impression on Kehoe, a freshman in biological sciences who plans to concentrate in integrative physiology and neurobiology, with a minor in psychology. A regular volunteer at Camp Dakota, a program for children with autism, and at CMC Levine Children’s Hospital, Kehoe’s goal is to complete a doctorate. She hopes one day to be a medical researcher studying the causes of autism.

“It is an honor to carry on the legacy of Our Three Winners at NC State,” Kehoe said.

Gifts to Our Three Winners, which is managed by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, can be made online or by check (with Our Three Winners in the memo line) mailed c/o Our Three Winners, Campus Box 7474, Raleigh, NC 27695-7474.