Being selected as a Fulbright scholar offered Marc Tohme (Steinhardt ’22) an educational opportunity that was scarce for many in his home country of Lebanon, where the value of national currency began plummeting in 2019. With Fulbright funding, he could earn a master’s degree abroad and then return to Lebanon to support schools and communities affected by the economic crisis.

Marc Tohme

Marc Tohme (Photo by Jonathan King)

Marc was first bitten by the teaching bug through work with a Christian youth group, where he facilitated entertaining and empowering activities for middle school and high school students. Later, during his undergraduate years at the Lebanese American University, he taught younger students about diplomacy and negotiation as part of the university’s Model UN program.

“These experiences really led me to understand the wonder of being with younger people in a classroom,” Marc recalls. “In our exchanges, I would be teaching them and learning from them and they would be teaching me and learning from me.”

Inspired, Marc earned a teaching diploma after his bachelor’s degree, and decided to apply for a Fulbright, listing NYU as his top choice among the four universities he selected.

“First of all, NYU is located in New York City, which is such a magical place to be,” he explains. “And the Steinhardt master’s program in educational leadership, politics, and advocacy is one of its kind in the United States.”

Adjusting to a new university and country was overwhelming at first, but Marc credits a supportive community with easing his transition. Through an international student seminar, for example, he connected with others in similar situations.

After graduating in Fall 2022, Marc will return to Lebanon for eight months as he applies for jobs and doctoral programs, including NYU’s PhD program in the sociology of education. He plans to draw on his background and research skills to combat discrimination and unequal treatment in education.

“I have seen from the faculty members and the work that I've been reading in my classes that academia is such a powerful advocacy tool to make the world a better place,” Tohme says. “And that's what I really plan to do, especially with my past experiences coming from a country in crisis, currently. I really want to look deeper into how education can really be a strong tool to help transform people's lives, and specifically for marginalized people in environments where they're not necessarily accepted and allowed to thrive.”