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Growing up in the city of Zarqa, northeast of Jordan’s capital Amman, Omaymah Harahsheh attended an Arabic-speaking military school, never imagining she would have the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate education in the United States. Harahsheh’s life drastically changed, however, after she passed the King’s Academy placement test in eighth grade. Today, Harahsheh, who is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in human rights and economics at Barnard College in New York City, attributes her decision to study abroad to a life-changing educational experience at King’s.

During her early days at King’s Academy, Harahsheh endured many new challenges. For the first time in her life, she enrolled in all English-speaking academic subjects, quickly realizing the difficulties she would encounter.

“I felt frustrated when I couldn’t understand the subjects,” Harahsheh said. “I was a straight A student my whole life before coming to King’s.”

With immense determination and hard work, however, Harahsheh quickly developed her English speaking and writing skills, and proceeded to excel in numerous subjects throughout all four years.

Prior to attending King’s, Harahsheh had aspired to pursue medicine and become a doctor, but once at King’s, it didn’t take very long before she began to develop new passions. After enrolling in a wide array of courses and engaging in long conversations with her teachers, Harahsheh realized that she was more interested in subjects such as international relations, human rights and economics than she was in chemistry and science.

“King’s gave me the chance to actually discover what my passions are,” she said.

By the time Harahsheh began her college application process during her senior year, she realized that her King’s experiences had helped her develop into a responsible, mature and independent young woman. “My parents thought I was going to apply to Jordanian universities and stay with them in Jordan, but I felt like King’s had prepared me enough to actually take the chance to travel abroad and live on my own,” she said.

She decided to apply to Barnard College, which appealed to her because it was a women’s college in New York City, a small-knit community, yet one in which students have the option to cross-enroll at Columbia University and utilize the resources offered at a world-class institution. Harahsheh is now a junior at Barnard, majoring in human rights and economics, in addition to pursuing a minor in French.

Recalling the person she was before enrolling at King’s, Harahsheh said: “I would have never had the courage to study in New York City if I hadn’t gone to King’s. The school not only taught me that I had a chance of getting accepted into Barnard, but it also taught me confidence, courage and independence.”

“If I were to have studied high school at home with my family around me, I would have been terrified to even think about going abroad, and been scared of studying at a university so far from my home,” she said.