emPOWERgirls Story: UWC experience impacted Sarah’s important decisions in life

April 13, 2021

In our ’emPOWERgirls Stories’ we want to highlight the power women in UWC Maastricht’s community. This week it’s Sarah Kotb’s turn!

Sarah graduated almost 10 years ago, together with the first batch of residential students from UWC Maastricht. They have been a tight knit group ever since. She even lives with one of her co-years in Boston where they are both doing a PhD at Harvard. They have been saving up for the 10-years reunion in Maastricht in 2022. 

Sarah was born and raised in Egypt, Alexandra. As she wanted more from the education that she was given in her local Catholic girl school, she was immediately intrigued when a friend joined a Facebookgroup of the United World Colleges. Only the application procedure seemed like a true adventure;  first she needed to convince her parents and then the selections all the way in Cairo.

She recollects her UWC experience as an intense time with a constant drive to know more, be more involved in extra curricular activities and inspiring where her mentality and the way she looked at the world completely shifted. Even at Harvard she didn’t experience this stimulating environment. While she was going through this personal rollercoaster, everything blew up in Egypt, where the revolution was in full swing. Instead of going home after graduation, she studied Liberal Arts in Vermont. 

Her UWC experience impacted her important decisions in life. For example, to volunteer during her undergraduate studies as sexual assault operator or her decision to PhD in Economics in order for her to assist developing countries in a systematic way. 

UWC’s initiative to focus on empowering girls by offering them quality education resonates with Sarah. She experienced first hand how the ceiling of expectations from girls and women is not a driver of great achievements. “Girls should experience the same basic human rights, a sense of feeling safe, be free” Only through education we can establish this. Moreover, it is not only about women, it’s about holding each other accountable for how we treat people. It’s not the women that have to step up. It’s about creating an environment for women to excel. In order to create that safe environment, we need powerful women and men!”

Sarah Kotb (Egypt) | Graduated from UWC Maastricht in 2012 and is currently doing her PhD in Health Policy at Harvard University, Boston MA, USA

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