UNT graduate student awarded with peace scholarship, plans to improve women's health in Egypt

Hagar Abdo
Photo by Danielle Nicholson
Friday, June 22, 2012

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- University of North Texas graduate student Hagar Abdo may be far from her home in Egypt, but she is using her time in the women's studies program to enhance women's lives in her native country.

Abdo, who will earn her master of science degree in women's studies next spring, has been awarded with a $10,000 Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) International Peace Scholarship. The scholarship is honoring her academic achievements, including maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average, as well as her accomplishments in the advancement of women's health.

"Winning the P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship is a great honor to me," Abdo said. "The warmth of the P.E.O. community as well as its generosity is so inspiring. The scholarship helps dreams become possible."

P.E.O. was founded in 1869 to promote women's education and empowerment. The scholarship program began in 1949 to advance international women graduate students who are making significant strides for humanity. The organization recognizes students throughout the U.S. and Canada through higher education scholarship programs.

Abdo's family has created a legacy of working for progress in women's lives. Her father is a gynecologist and obstetrician, and her mother works in education in her hometown of Aswan in southern Egypt. Abdo is focusing on women's health in her degree, and is conducting research on postpartum depression in unprivileged communities. After she completes her degree, she plans to return to Aswan to continue her work in this area.

Abdo earned her bachelor's degree in pharmacy and biotechnology from German University in Cairo. She is currently working as a research assistant within the women's studies program.

Sandra Spencer, director of the women's studies program and Abdo's mentor, said Abdo's first-hand experiences in Egypt and dedication to women's health make her a vital asset to the field.

"Hagar is in an ideal position to make a major contribution to women's health in Egypt," Spencer said. "Perhaps even more important, however, is that she has an inquisitive mind and the focus needed to keep both a macro and micro view of the issues facing pregnant women and new mothers in mind.  Hagar is a tireless researcher and a consummate scholar.  I am very pleased and excited that P.E.O. also sees how promising her work is."

James Duban, director of the UNT Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships, said Abdo deserves this prestigious honor because of her important accomplishments in women's health.

"The award brings immense distinction to Hagar and to UNT because P.E.O. funds only the very best female international students pursuing graduate study in the U.S., while insisting that the research of the students will have broad humanitarian application," Duban said.

Many UNT students have also received the P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship in previous years. The organization has awarded 12 scholarships to eight UNT students in the past decade for their academic prominence and international humanitarian contributions.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108