During the 2017 Lohez 9/11 Foundation Concert and Awards Reception, held May 10 at the French Consulate in New York City, Consul General Ms. Anne-Claire Legendre spoke of the significance of the transcultural scholarly exchanges accomplished through the Lohez Foundation.
Legendre also expressed her gratitude for the Lohez Foundation’s “commitment to curtailing violence across the globe.” She noted of the Lohez Scholars, “By seeking to promote mutual understanding and international cooperation, they all contribute to make the world a better place, and we all thank them for their dedication.”
The Emcee, Dr. George Calhoun of the School of Business at Stevens Institute of Technology, then spoke of the Lohez Scholars, and the “close and deepening bond between Stevens Institute and the Lohez Foundation … augmented by a significant collaboration in the Alliance Program at Columbia University, where Dening Lohez is also an alumna of the School of International and Public Affairs.”
Dr. Calhoun then introduced the Founder of the Lohez 9/11 Scholarship Foundation, Ms. Dening Lohez.
Ms. Lohez spoke of “the geographical, cultural, and disciplinary diversity” of the Lohez Foundation.
Moreover, Ms. Lohez elucidated the way in which the foundation has thrived “for more than a decade and contributed to more than 40 international students studying in China, France and the United States.”
“Through partnering with Fudan University, the Alliance Program at Columbia University, Stevens Institute of Technology and EPITA,” said Lohez, “we are able to link together the United States, France and by extension Europe, and China.”
Lohez Foundation Board Member Dr. Ellie De Abdi then presented the Jacques Barzun Award for Distinguished Contributions to Trans-Cultural Scholarly Exchange. The 2017 recipients were Dr. Gregory P. Prastacos and Dr. Joël Courtois.
Upon receiving the award, Dr. Prastacos, the Dean of the Stevens School of Business, remarked that, “through her tireless efforts, [Ms. Lohez] has converted personal tragedy into an incredible vision that gives opportunities to students across three continents.” He also noted that, “by connecting students in France, China, and the Unites States, the foundation has created new avenues for the next generation of global leaders.”
Dr. Courtois, the Managing Director of EPITA in France, highlighted the international connections with EPITA, some made possible through the Lohez Foundation. According to Dr. Courtois, EPITA has numerous “foreign students in France, all coming from 45 different countries.” He also expressed his gratitude for Ms. Lohez’s “major impact on the relationship between EPITA and Stevens Institute.”
Dr. Calhoun then introduced the recipient of the 2017 Lohez Foundation Distinguished American Spirit Award, Ms. Diana Wege. Ms. Lohez spoke of Ms. Wege’s “Reject Violence” Campaign, through which the artist sought to promote conflict resolution, tolerance and peace. Ms. Lohez remarked on Ms. Wege’s artwork and its instrumental role in “her cultural journey and integration process.”
In her acceptance of the award, Ms. Wege promised “never to stop trying to lessen violence in the world where my children and grandchild live.” She also remarked of the award, “I will tirelessly try to prove that you gave it to the right person.”
Mr. Soliman El-Cheikh, a 2014 Lohez Scholar, then played two piano pieces by Frederic Chopin and elucidated the relationship of Chopin’s pieces to the scholars of the Lohez Foundation. Just as Chopin’s pieces reflect the “complexity of his music and the multiplicity of his identity,” the Lohez scholars possess “multiple identities, thanks to the contributions of the Lohez Foundation.”
Following Mr. El-Cheikh’s performance, Dr. Calhoun acknowledged various special guests:
Dr. Christophe Pierre, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Stevens Institute of Technology
Ms. Dawn da Silva, Associate Vice President for Development at Stevens Institute of Technology
Professor Michael zur Muehlen, Associate Dean of the School of Business, Stevens Institute of
Dr. Anne Murphy, Associate Dean of the School of Business, Stevens Institute of Technology
Dr. Cory Way, Associate Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Mr. Glenn Novarr, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, School of General Studies, Columbia University
Dr. Calhoun then invited Associate Dean Cory Way of Columbia University to present the scholarship award to Mr. Diego Filiu, who has earned a dual bachelor’s degree in Middle East-Political Science from Sciences Po and Columbia University. Mr. Filiu, he said, values the Lohez Scholarship due to the “intercultural exchange and collaboration with people of different cultural, intellectual and academic backgrounds that make his studies in the U.S. very valuable.”
Mr. Filiu reflected, “At Columbia, thanks to the generosity of the Lohez Scholarship Foundation I’ve been able to experience intellectual, academic, personal and cultural challenges. Countering despair by hope [and] countering hate by joy is a project I see in the Lohez Foundation, which is why I am very honored to be a recipient of the 2017 Jérôme Lohez Scholarship.”
Ms. Paula Henin, a 2011 Lohez Scholar and an Associate Attorney of International Arbitration and Litigation at Skadden and Affiliates, presented the scholarship award to Mr. Vincent Liagre, who pursued a dual master’s degree in science at the Ecole Polytechnique and the Schools of Engineering and Business at and Columbia University. Owing to the opportunity provided by the Lohez Scholarship, Mr. Liagre seeks “to dive deep into innovation in the energy sector in the U.S.A. and get inspired.”
Mr. Liagre concluded, “I’m really glad to join a community of laureates and people that have inspiring experiences. And I hope that, in the future, I will be an inspiring person to the future laureates, and I hope that I will be able to help the Jérôme Lohez Foundation continue its wonderful endeavor in favoring the cultural exchanges, rejecting violence, and encouraging young people to do great things.”
Following the presentation of the scholarship awards to the 2017 recipients, vocalist Ms. Rosalinda Hassall sang classic French Chansons, accompanied by pianist Mr. Ouajdi Cherif.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Calhoun lauded the Lohez Foundation, which “professes a vision focused on cultivating a class of young leaders with a truly global outlook. The organization is looking to build its executive and advisory boards, its academic and corporate alliances, and to grow its modest endowment into a competitive resource for increased cultural exchange and mutual understanding.”
Several honored guests shared their reflections on the work of the foundation.
Ms. Dawn da Silva, Associate Vice President for Development at Stevens, remarked, “I think it’s a terrific program and the growth that Dening has been able to realize in the past few years has been tremendous and is so desperately needed in today’s day and age.”
Dr. Michael zur Muehlen, Associate Dean of the School of Business at Stevens, lauded the dedication and commitment of the Lohez scholars. “I am constantly impressed with the quality of the students that come through this program and apply to the program. I have participated in the selection committee for a number of years. It is a very hard decision to make, because they are very accomplished individuals. They boast great academic records and show a lot of social enrichment.”
Ms. Sharen Glennon, Senior Associate at Tranquility49 PR, noted, “The Lohez scholars are always very bright and accomplished. The mission of the foundation matters to me.”
Mr. Soliman El-Cheikh, the 2014 Lohez scholar, highlighted the diversity of the Lohez Scholarship recipients. “It’s fascinating how different the scholars are,” he said, “They are interested in international affairs. They also come from different fields; it could be politics, economics, or art. Now that we have had more than ten years of scholars, we see how different careers can develop from these backgrounds. It’s an honor to be part of the foundation and it summarizes a little bit of my identity.”
Ms. Paula Henin, the 2011 Lohez Scholar and Associate Attorney at Skadden and Affiliates, reflected, “I am very thankful to this foundation as a former recipient, and the candidates each year seem to be getting more and more impressive. I studied in the U.S. and now I’m living here, so I value international relations and cultural exchanges.”
– Lauren Mergian for Tranquility49 PR