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A Letter to Alumni from the President

As you know, communities and schools around the world are experiencing a year of challenge and change—and the same is true for our American University family. This fall, to prioritize health and safety above all else, we made the difficult decision to offer all classes online.

As a member of the alumni community, you recognize that this decision affects us in many ways—but one thing that remains the same is AU’s core purpose as a place of higher learning. Our dedicated faculty spent the summer preparing and planning for an engaging semester, no matter the modality. As we embark on the academic year, we remain committed to delivering a world-class education to the diverse minds who study at AU. 

Our students truly define our school. I am always inspired by their passion, their drive, and their urgency to improve the world around them. This is why we must continue to ensure that an AU education is accessible—particularly in moments of uncertainty. And, as you will see, alumni support makes all the difference in times like these. 

In a typical year, AU provides $100 million in financial aid to undergraduate students, and 80 percent of all incoming students receive some type of financial support. This year, more students are in need due to lost family wages and unforeseen events—and students from vulnerable communities bear the brunt of the impact. In response to these challenges, AU is providing an AU Community Care Fall Discount, equivalent to 10 percent of fall tuition. We also committed an additional $13 million for financial aid for the year—as Momal says (see right), everyone should be able to pursue their dreams at a school like ours. 

During this disruption, we want to  be there every step of the way for our students. I invite you to join me in that endeavor by making a gift to the AU Fund for Student Support, which gives students the resources they need, when they need them. From textbooks to technology, from remote internship opportunities to responding to the unexpected, your gift will help ensure that all students—whatever their circumstances—can access everything AU has to offer.

We know this is a difficult time for our entire community. Alumni play an important role in shaping the AU student experience, whether it’s through mentoring and networking or providing financial support. To help show the power of your generosity, I am sharing several student stories. You can meet current undergraduates like Marley and Tiba, as well as recent graduates like Hannah and Kwesi—and learn how philanthropy changed their lives.  

In the year ahead, the strength of the alumni community will be critical to AU’s success because, together, we can accomplish incredible things. Gifts of all sizes make a real impact on our students. Join us in helping them accomplish incredible things—give to the AU Fund for Student Support today. And remember: Once an Eagle, always an Eagle!

With gratitude,

Sylvia M. Burwell

AU Student, Hannah, wearing plaid overalls with a black shirt, smiling at the camera“As an independent first-generation student, I paid my way through college. Receiving a scholarship made it possible for me to focus on academics and less on financials. AU helped me achieve my academic and career goals by being able to work with my financial situation.” 

AU Student, Kwesi, wearing a black tank top, smiling at the camera“At AU, I had the chance to study with world-class experts in international studies. Because I received scholarships and financial aid, I was able to complete rigorous and engaging coursework in the company of capable faculty and peers. I was encouraged to grow as a critical thinker and learn as a young professional. Thanks to AU’s robust network of resources and support, I was also able to intern at a grassroots nonprofit and meaningfully contribute to local communities.”

AU Student, Marley, standing in front of the Washington Monument, wearing a blue blouse“Being an Eagle has profoundly helped me grow—I wouldn’t be who I am today without the friends, professors, and internships I have had at AU. I’ve been surrounded by some of the smartest, most driven, and impressive people, who motivate me to be a better person. Moving to virtual learning for my senior year was sudden and unexpected but AU has done a great job at supporting me. It is an amazing feeling knowing that although this semester is remote, my online classes are still filled with people that I know will change the world one day.”

AU Student, Tiba Shlash, smiling at the camera and wearing a striped tank top“My professors are some of the smartest people I’ve met, and they have a passion for their subjects. They really encourage participation, and that forced me to get out of my shell. Studying at AU has taught me how to speak up. This has carried through to our new virtual environment. Although this adjustment was difficult, my professors have gone above and beyond.”

AU Student, Isaac, standing smiling with a blue sports top on“I have received financial aid every year, and it means so much—I would not have been able to attend school away from home otherwise. I am grateful to study journalism in the nation's capital and serve as a producer for ATV News on campus. After my time at AU, I hope to use the experience I have gained to increase the importance of local, independent journalism.”

AU Student, Momal Rizvi, wearing a black blouse and smiling

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