Raphael Presberg Acceptance Remarks
Jérôme Lohez 9/11 Scholarship Foundation Gala
May 1, 2018
Raphael Presberg Acceptance Remarks
Raphael Presberg Acceptance Remarks
Jérôme Lohez 9/11 Scholarship Foundation Gala
May 1, 2018
The 13th Annual Concert and Awards Reception was held on May 1, 2018 at the French Consulate. Click to view the program.
Photos and videos coming soon.
The Jérôme Lohez 9/11 Scholarship Foundation is pleased to confer the 2018 Jacques Barzun Award on Merit E. Janow, Dean, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and Professor of Professional Practice in International Economic Law and International Affairs at Columbia University. Read her bio here.
“My curiosity for new arenas always leads to discovering various experiences, identities and responsibilities, during which I enjoy collisions in thoughts and exploration of diverse cultural values,” reflected Lohez 2017-18 Scholar Haicheng Wang, a student of the dual-degree master’s program between Sciences Po and Fudan University.
Between 2012 and 2016, Haicheng studied international politics in Fudan University. Inspired by a comparative perspective of European studies and Chinese diplomacy, he then chose to pursue the master’s program between Sciences Po and Fudan with one year each in France and China.
Not only has Haicheng held various student leadership positions, but he has completed prestigious internships as well. He went to Yale University for exchange during his undergraduate studies. He led the department serving international students in the student union of Fudan University. In addition, Haicheng completed an internship at the American Chamber of Commerce, where he worked in asset management. He also worked in risk consultancy as he interned at the European Council on Foreign Relations, a pan-European think tank. Haicheng’s desire to help others led him to visit Cambodia in order to volunteer in a local community. While his past explorations aided him in learning and adapting to new cultures, Haicheng’s current endeavors continue to shape his values and his journey to self-discovery. Reflecting on his studies in Paris, he noted that the experience surpassed his expectations. Haicheng observes, “The program offered me an excellent opportunity to explore Europe as a foreigner and rediscover my homeland of China. Learning about the people of other cultures encourages dialogue and mutual understanding.”
Between 2011 and 2014, Riccardo Cersosimo of Italy studied International Business Administration at Tilburg University (School of Economics and Management) in the Netherlands, as well as at Peking University (Guanghua School of Management), Beijing. After graduating with distinction, he devoted a year to learning Mandarin Chinese at Beijing Language and Culture University, Beijing, on a scholarship granted by the Chinese Government. Recalling his experience in Beijing, Riccardo notes that he “nurtured his passion for languages and discovered how the world of communication is changing through the digitalization of the society, particularly in the Chinese context.”
Aspiring to discover a new culture and language while maintaining his bond with China, Riccardo entered the Dual Degree program at the School of Management and Innovation at Sciences Po in France and the School of Journalism at Fudan University in China, from which he will graduate in June 2018. Between the first and second years of his master’s program, Riccardo took another gap year to gain some valuable work experience through two internships. After winning the Sciences Po edition of the Brandstorm competition organized by the L’Oréal Group, Riccardo interned for the Marketing Development department of Lancôme (L’Oréal). He also completed an internship at the Digital Communications department of Guerlain (LVMH).
Riccardo notes, “Through both my first and second internships, I have had the chance to apply the theoretical knowledge stemming from both my undergraduate and graduate studies to a fascinating, dynamic and creative industry.”
He currently serves as one of the 15 Italian citizens holding the Chinese Government Scholarship for the Academic Year 2017-2018. Aside from attending classes at Fudan University, he interns at the Chinese branch of Guerlain.
Ricardo reflects, “Pursuing my academic achievements and eye-opening work experiences abroad in both China and Europe have equipped me with the adaptability and global vision necessary to tackle the globalized world and immerse myself in new opportunities where my creative strengths can align with my ambition to make an impact on the marketing and communication industry.”
Lohez scholar Yi Da Jeremy Ng from Singapore currently studies in the Dual BA Program between Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris (Campus du Havre).
“College, for me, served as a time to explore new interests,” reflects Jeremy. “Having studied politics and social sciences at Sciences Po, I decided to take a more quantitative approach to my studies at Columbia, and am now majoring in information science.”
His desire to chart new waters also led Jeremy to undertake internships in France, China, Singapore, Tajikistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, working in sectors such as finance and international development. As a result of his work experience, he developed a strong desire to leverage private capital to finance projects in the developing world, particularly in under-served areas such as Central Asia.
“My career goals are definitely a function of my previous internship experiences,” observes Jeremy. “I spent a summer working for the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia in Tajikistan, where I helped to design and implement social protection and civil society projects. This was really meaningful work, as I could see from site visits how our projects had improved the lives of vulnerable communities such as people living with HIV, or victims of gender-based violence.”
Jeremy, however, remains keenly aware of the challenges faced by development agencies today. “One problem we kept encountering in Tajikistan was the lack of funding from governments and international donors. This is where my experience in the private sector proved enlightening. My internship at Bridgewater Associates showed me the immense potential of private capital, which I hope to ultimately deploy to more socially beneficial ends.”
Côme Lefébure believes that solving conflicts requires an understanding of others. His experiences in China, France, and the United States fostered his belief concerning the necessity of tolerance. His desire to become a peace-maker of tomorrow brought him first to Sciences Po’s Europe-Asia campus in Le Havre and now to Columbia University.
At Sciences Po, he served as the treasurer of the Sports club. In addition, he became the captain of both the soccer team and the swimming team. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Côme aspires to serve at France’s Foreign Affairs and work with China, a country where he spent his childhood and accomplished his first professional internships.
Côme’s attributes his status as a global citizen to his French and Italian heritage. As a global citizen, Côme feels empowered by cooperation amongst diverse people groups. He believes in the power of cultural and educational exchanges for shaping a peaceful world. Moreover, he feels honored to join the Jérôme Lohez 9/11 Foundation and its cohort of inspiring ambassadors from all over the world. Côme strives to promote dialogue and joint actions across France, China, and the United States.
After two years of intensive training in physics and mathematics, Raphael completed two years of multidisciplinary engineering formation in computer science, energy and systems, signal and networks, and electronics. He then completed one year of specialization in computer science engineering & Big Data. Raphael has applied to the Masters of Science in Information System at Stevens Institute of Technology to fulfill his interest in both the technological and strategic aspects of data analysis and data science.
After his first international experience in Tel Aviv University, where he studied 6 months for a spring semester in electrical engineering, he sought a new opportunity abroad in New York. Concerning his move to New York, Raphael explained that he desired “to discover the American way of life, visit the wonderful city and live new experiences.” Moreover, he strives to improve his English and attain his C2 level goal.
Last summer, he worked as a data analyst at Schneider Electric. Upon completion of his Masters of Science at Stevens, he will seek new opportunities in data analysis and data science in American technology companies to develop his technical skills in an optimal environment.
“To me, America is in essence the land of willpower,” said Pierre Savary, a 2015-2016 Lohez Foundation Scholar. “This is made visible by symbols such as the Freedom Tower, built in the aftermath of the biggest terrorist attack in US history, where the Twin Towers once represented New York, and it is now the highest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.”
During his undergraduate years at Sciences Po in Paris, Pierre had already had the opportunity to study in the United States, spending a year abroad at the University of California-Berkeley. There he studied in the Departments of Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies. “I went to UC Berkeley and studied in SIPA’s International Security Concentration,” he said, “to learn more about terrorism from an academic perspective and understand better why some people of my age, sometimes even younger than me, choose the path to violence. In France I got involved in interfaith dialogue activities as a way to promote French society’s cohesion.”
At UC Berkeley, Pierre also discovered California’s culture of creativity and entrepreneurship, where hard work combined to enthusiasm and a vision for the future makes everything possible. “In California I witnessed a sense of faith in the future that today’s Western societies often lack. I understood that fighting extremism is useless without an alternative vision for the world we want to live in, a vision that appeals to all and everyone.”
While completing his dual degree in International Security at Columbia University, Pierre served as an intern at the Consulate General of France in New York City. There, he drafted speeches and other official communications for Consul General Bertrand Lortholary and other diplomatic personnel. It was a position that afforded him special insight into the workings of a diplomatic outpost immersed in the day-to-day issues of foreign relations.
After graduation, Pierre spent several weeks training in a military camp in Southern France to become a Reserve soldier in the French Army. “As a reserve soldier,” he said, “I will protect tourism sites, but also religious places: churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
Pierre describes himself as very attached to the French concept of laïcité, which ensures that the State treats fairly and equally protects all citizens regardless of their beliefs and religion, and opposes the politicization of religious identities. To him, laïcité is a necessary component of the Republican ideal that he wishes to serve through his professional life. “Promoting French society’s unity”, he said, “implies tackling the spread of all perilous ideologies and communitarianism, as well as the rampant inequalities that weaken our social fabric. Social justice is another major component of the Republican and French ideals I believe in.”
Pierre also worked for a while at the French Embassy in Amman, Jordan. Back in Paris, his path also led him briefly to the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
In 2019, Pierre was accepted to the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, a grand school training future senior civil servants, which churned out presidents, ambassadors and industry leaders for decades.
During the second half of the Lohez 9/11 Foundation Annual Awards Event, held May 12, 2016, at the French Consulate in NYC, Columbia University Alliance Director Alessia Lefubure Lo Porto introduced Ms. Juliette Faure, a 2015 Lohez Scholar. Juliette presented 2016 Lohez Foundation Scholar Rébecca Assouline-Béra, who has pursued a dual degree between Sciences Po and Columbia University’s School of General Studies.
Ms. Faure pursued a dual degree between Sciences Po and Columbia University SIPA. She is currently Assistant Director for Sovereign and Government Fund Relations at the Sovereign Investor Institute at Institutional Investor in New York.
Emcee Carla Virola next introduced Lohez Foundation Board Member Ms. Emily Wexler, who spoke briefly about 2016 Lohez Scholar Etienne Marié, who has pursued a dual degree between EPITA and Stevens Institute of Technology. Etienne was not able to attend the evening in NYC as he was attending a family wedding in France.
A professional engineer, Ms. Wexler is currently a Development Consultant in association with Tranquility49 LLC, with past associations at Baruch College, AllianceBernstein and – most important – Stevens Institute of Technology, where she earned a master’s degree in Technology Management and Project Management.
Ms. Virola then introduced Dr. James Parenti, Senior Associate Dean at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, who presented 2016 Lohez Foundation Scholar Pierre Savary, who has pursued a dual degree between Sciences Po and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia.
Next Ms. Virola introduced Lohez Foundation Board Member Ms. Ellie de Abdi, who introduce the Foundation’s Guest of Honor, photographer, videographer and educator, Mr. Thomas E. Franklin, who received the Lohez 9/11 Foundation Distinguished American Spirit Award.
Ms. de Abdi is a doctoral researcher and a former gymnast and coach, currently a physical, health and dance education teacher and Professional Development Coordinator for the Department of Health and Physical Education, in addition to being a research and teacher leader, for an urban district in New Jersey. She is also a Clinical Faculty member in the College of Education and Human Services at Montclair State University.
Ms. Virola then announced “with that our Annual Celebration and Awards Ceremony draws to a close. Ms. Lohez has provided me a list of guests and supporters that she would like to thank, including…
“Ms. Léa Futschik, Higher Education Attaché, Executive Director, Partner University Fund of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy
Mr. Allan Chapin, Chairman of the French-American Foundation
Mr. John Bennett, President of the Paris America Club
Dr. Joel Courtois, Director of EPITA, Paris
Dean Gregory Prastacos, School of Business, Stevens Institute of Technology
Dean Merit Janow, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
Senior Associate Dean James Parenti, SIPA
Associate Dean Cory Way, SIPA
Assistant Vice President Dawn da Silva, and the Stevens Office of Development
Dr. Alessia Lefebure Lo Porto, Director of the Alliance, Columbia University
Ms. Helene Sostarich Barsamian, Director of Development, College of the Arts, School of Communication and Media, Montclair State University
Ms. Sharen Glennon, Senior Associate, Tranquility49 PR
Mr. Patrick A. Berzinski, CEO, Tranquility49 PR
The Tranquility49 PR Video Crew
Mr. Kevin Berry, a Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party Organization
Ms. Maria Martini Cordonnier, President of the Little Falls, N.J., Democratic Club
Ms. Amandine Tristani, Pace University Graduate and Digital Communications Volunteer at Control Arms, for her volunteer service at the registration table during tonight’s event.
“Ms. Lohez wishes to extend special thanks to Select Auto Services of New Jersey for their generous donation of fine wines for the enjoyment of our guests,” said Ms. Virola, in conclusion. “Also – many thanks to Ms. Yu-chen Juang and Mr. Brian T. Kelly, CPA for donating the selection of delicious desserts.”
At the Lohez 9/11 Foundation Annual Awards Event, held May 12, 2016, at the French Consulate in NYC, Consul General Deputy Mr. Bernard Faro made opening remarks citing the work of the Lohez Foundation.
Emcee Carla Virola then introduced the program, calling it “an exciting evening for the Lohez Foundation. Not only is the Foundation awarding scholarships to a new class of five international students. We have on hand a scholar who could not be with us in person last year, but who spoke to us then via video greeting,” Mr. Soliman Elcheikh.
Ms. Virola then introduced “the Founder of the Lohez 9/11 Scholarship Foundation, a global citizen who is an educator in her own right, Ms. Dening Wu Lohez.”
Ms. Alessia Lefebure Lo Porto, “a strong friend and ally of the Lohez 9/11 Foundation,” followed. Lefebure Lo Porto is the Director of The Alliance, which comprises Columbia University in the US, in partnership with programs at four major French universities. The Alliance is an endowed international joint-initiative, whose aim is to foster innovation and circulation of ideas in Higher Education and Research, with a strong interdisciplinary focus.
Ms. Lefebure Lo Porto then introduced Ms. Juliette Faure, a 2015 Lohez Scholar.
Soliman Elcheikh is currently a dual-degree undergraduate at Columbia University. Though he arrived for the first time in the United States from France in September 2015, he had read a lot about the country in books and daily newspapers, and he was curious and excited to see what was in store upon his arrival. In residence at Columbia, he wanted to experience life in the territory beyond New York City, spending most of his last winter break exploring more of the East Coast. He plans to travel through the Midwest and to the West Coast next summer.
Soliman also finds that his courses at Columbia help him to understand better the internal and external dynamics of the United States. “My experience here in the United States helps me to grow every day and learn from my environment,” he says.
As a boy and young adult, Soliman grew up experiencing multiple cultures. He was raised in Egypt, and attended French-language schools during his childhood. His education in Egypt prepared him for his undergraduate years attending Sciences Po in France.
No matter how culturally diverse Soliman’s background is, he believes that nothing can really prepare anyone for the melting pot that is New York City. He calls it a “microcosm of the world,” where you experience interaction between and among every culture on a daily basis, where different communities can peacefully live together. “There is without a doubt a lot to learn from this experience,” he says.
He is also overwhelmed by the beauty of the city, most notably the Manhattan skyline as seen from Brooklyn.
Recently, while crossing the Williamsburg Bridge back to Manhattan, he observed the sunset, “and the magnificent rays of light were speaking everywhere. I watched with an unwavering gaze as the threads of light were dyeing all the tall buildings first orange, then red, and later dark blue. When night had taken over,” he says, “all building lights were sparkling like infinite stars in the sky. It was an extremely poetic moment that I will never forget.”
Having studied in France, Soliman notices an interesting contrast between the academic structures of France and the United States. First, he noticed that in France the coursework is lighter, yet more intellectually demanding, asserting that “originality and critical thinking are two basic skills that you would naturally develop.” He finds the teaching in the United States to be more pragmatic. While there is always room for discussion and debate, he finds the assignments to be skills-oriented, requiring less “out-of-the-box” thinking. “These two approaches are complementary,” he explains, “and you need both to be successful.”
While Soliman has a broad global perspective from traveling and previously studying in France, he finds that it’s important that there are students with many different perspectives in his classes.
“A global perspective is not always the right one, and we sometimes need to listen to someone with a very local background. I personally believe,” he says “that each and every one in the classroom has a positive contribution to make, and they do not need to have a global background. In the midst of a globalized world, listening to others is a must, and challenging one’s opinions and beliefs is the only way to grow and move forward.”
After spending six months in New York, Soliman says that the city definitely feels like a future home to him. He loves the diversity, and the fact that “you can almost feel the pulse of the world” in New York. He still wants to travel and to discover new cultures, but he already feels completely at home in New York City.
As for a future career, he’s still deciding. He has future plans for some internships, and has explored several fields over the last few years, helping him more clearly define some of his goals.
“Now I know that I want to do something innovative, I want to have an impact on people’s lives and be useful to the community,” says Soliman. “I had the chance of living an international experience and studying at top universities. This puts a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders, and I am determined to achieve great things.”
– Julie Roccanova, Tranquility49 PR