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Inside the Wien Scholarship

Published: September 21, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.


The Wien Scholarship program is one of Brandeiss many scholarship programs that sets the university apart from its contemporaries.

The Wien program is unique in the sense that it offers a merit-based scholarship exclusively for international students. It was the first of its kind in the United States when it was launched here 50 years ago.

The program has grown in recent years, with 43 Wien scholars currently on campus, including 12 new Wein freshmen. There is much that can be learned about the nature of the program and what it actually means to be a Wien scholar.

As a current Wien scholar, I have nothing but praise for a program that was the deciding factor in my decision to attend Brandeis. Carrying the title of a “Wien scholar,” I felt an added weight on my shoulders– and this was before I made the arduous 26-hour journey from my home country, Pakistan.

What could I expect upon arrival? My e-mail interaction with a current Wien scholar at the time was my only real access to what a Wien scholar entailed, but even that was a highly subdued version of what the experience would like.

As if the environment at Brandeis isn't competitive enough, being part of the Wien program only adds to this competitive nature of learning. The vast array of talent that each and every member of the Wien community possesses is sometimes rather intimidating to cope with.

However, something about this unique campus ensures that if you care even the slightest bit about work and grades, then you will have no choice but to get sucked into staying on top of things.

To make matters worse, when you travel from thousands of miles away to attend school in the United States, you really cant afford the luxury of slipping up. Maybe it is because somewhere deep inside of us, we have the added responsibility of living up to a prestigious name.

Among the many aims of the Wien program, one is to come to the U.S. to broaden our perspectives about our interactions in an environment that is often extremely foreign to many of us. We regularly organize meetings and events where we can share some of our experiences with one another.

Recent trips have included a one week volunteer trip to Buras, Louisiana(just south of New Orleans) to help in the relief work with Katrina victims.

Community development is a big part of American culture, and we, as Wien scholars, are encouraged to attune ourselves to the American way of philanthropy. Ill admit that it is near impossible to out-do the United States in community service initiatives, and as a result, we do our best to embrace local cultures and practices as well.

Perhaps the most interesting and captivating aspect of the Wien program is the diversity that everyone adds to the campus, just by virtue of bringing their culture to our group. I have enjoyed learning about other countries and cultures tremendously, and at the same time, have felt a sense of pride when representing my home country to others.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wien program, and next semester from April 11th to April 13th, we will be hosting a number of events with Wien alumni to celebrate the anniversary.

It is a phenomenal opportunity for everyone out there to come and get a glimpse of who we are and what we do. I feel honored and privileged to be part of such an exclusive and high-achieving group, and Im really looking forward to my next couple of years as a Wien on campus.