Degel Menashe Scholarship Winners Look Back on Academic year
(June 8) June marks the end of the academic year, and with it our Newsletter asked Degel Menashe’s 2021-22 scholarship winners to write a few words about their studies and how they were affected by the aid they received.
All, as might be expected, spoke of a lightening of the economic burden borne by them. Interestingly, though, none said that without their scholarships, which averaged forty percent of their tuition, they would not have continued their education. All were determined to have done so in any case, even though it would have meant taking part-time jobs, or working more hours at jobs they already had, at the expense of their studies. Twenty-one-year-old Osnath Lotzem from Kiryat Araba, for example, now in her third and last year of a Medical Instrument Technician’s course at Jerusalem’s College of Management, wrote:
“All along I’ve been working part-time to pay for my college tuition. If not for Degel Menashe, I would have had to work even more and would have had less time available for my schoolwork. No words can describe how much I thank you.”
Yossi Kipgen from Nitzan, 29, who has just finished his second year of a three-year program in Medical Lab Science as Hadassah College in Jerusalem, expressed himself similarly:
“The scholarship helped by enabling me to cut down on outside work and invest more of my time in my studies and preparing for exams. I saw the results in the good grades I received this year as compared to the previous one, when I failed a course. With less financial worries on my mind, I felt less stressed and more able to concentrate.”
Some of the scholarship winners said that without their awards they would have been forced to take less courses and spread their studies over more time. Nitzana Lhungdim-Barsheshet, who received her B.A. degree in Special Education this year from Herzog College wrote:
“Because of the scholarship, I was able to finish my studies sooner than planned and to graduate in January rather than in June. Now, I’m already working as a fifth-grade teacher with children with communications problems.”
Yitzhak Lhungdim, 28, from Kiryat Arba, received his degree in social work this June from Hadassah College. Although, he said, he also had a job at a tourist center in Hebron, “it was the scholarship from Degel Menashe that made it possible to keep my head economically above water.” The scholarship gave him more time for the field work assigned him with a population he had had no previous experience with – the elderly. “In the past,” he wrote, “I had always worked with young people. At first, I was worried about working with older ones. I had a fear of old age – call it ageism, if you will. Now, though, I understand how much this age group has been left without a voice and is overlooked by the rest of society, and how much it needs younger people like myself.” Yitzhak is now thinking of making a career of working with senior citizens.
For some, the Degel Menashe scholarship had a motivational as well as an economic value. “I’m 25 years old and a first-year student in industrial design at the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design, and Art in Ramat-Gan.” wrote Ya’el Lunkhel.“Ever since I was a girl, I dreamed of getting a higher education after my army service. But no one in my surroundings had ever gone to college before. It seemed too much to hope for.
“I felt that my feet were stuck to the ground when I wanted to fly. When I heard that an NGO was helping people from our community to study, it gave me a big push psychologically. I began to believe that it was possible, that I had someone behind me. I thought, ‘Whatever else happens this year, it’s the year I’m going to fly!’”
Ya’el, who spent three hours every day traveling from her home town of Kiryat Arba to Ramat-Gan and back, thinks Degel Menashe’s scholarship program is impacting the entire B’nei Menashe community. “We’ve always had the intelligence and an ethic of hard work,” she says. “Now that Degel Menashe has come on the scene, I’ve noticed a significant rise in the number of young B’nei Menashe enrolling in colleges and universities. For the first time, they believe they can do it, because they look around them and see others doing it, too, They’re sprouting wings and learning to fly just like I did.”