Alumni Inspiration
March 28, 2021

Dr. Rana Dajani: Fulbrighter and Renowned Jordanian Scholar

Over the years, Dr. Dajani received two Fulbright awards; the Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship to pursue her Ph.D., and years later received the Scholar Research Award at Yale University. This feature also includes our first video interview of this series.

In December of 2020, the Fulbright Jordan’s Communications team interviewed one of their brightest alumni, Dr. Rana Dajani, at the We Love Reading offices in Amman in preparation of the Fulbright Programs 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2021.

Over the years, Dr. Dajani received two Fulbright awards; the first being in the year 2000 for the Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship to pursue her Ph.D., and the second Fulbright award in 2012 for the Scholar Research Award where she was hosted for 9 months at Yale University.

Dr. Rana Dajani is a Molecular Biologist and Tenured Professor of Biology and Biotechnology at the Hashemite University. Additionally, she is a proud mother of four, a social entrepreneur, and a human rights defender, and is specifically interested in raising the health, educational and social status of women and children in the region.

You can watch the full interview below:

Dr. Rana Dajani received her first Fulbright award to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Iowa in 2000. In 2012, Dr. Dajani reapplied to the Fulbright Program and got a Visiting Professor position at Yale University.  Both experiences were inspiring to her and her family as these experiences gave them the opportunity to share their own culture and learn from other cultures in order to take the best of each and incorporate it to make a better world for everyone.

Fulbright Communications team filming with Dr. Rana Dajani in December of 2020

Besides the various roles Dr. Dajani plays in life, she is a strong advocate for the empowering of women, being a member of many organizations such as ASRF Women Innovators in Charge Jury and has been on the UN Women Jordan Advisory Council since 2013. Mentoring many, Dr. Dajani has also created a toolkit needed in order for the women she trained to “pay it forward” and train others as well. She is also the President of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World in its chapter in Jordan.

Dr. Rana’s role as a social entrepreneur extends to her being the Founder of the We Love Reading Program that trains adults to read aloud to children in their local language. These adults hold reading sessions in their local neighborhood to make reading accessible for everyone and to foster a love of reading in young children beyond academics and religion. The We Love Reading Program has now spread to sixty countries to transform from being a local initiative into an international social movement.

Dr. Rana Dajani Reading a story for children as part of the We Love Reading Program
(Photo courtesy of Dr. Dajani)

Besides the importance of reading that inspired Dr. Rana Dajani to start a program, Dr. Dajani also has the same interest in writing. For her, “writing your own story is vital as we owe it not just to ourselves, but to future generations so that they can read about us in our own words.” In that sense, Dr. Dajani wrote her own book, Five Scarves: Doing the Impossible, to tell her own story in her own words.

Dr. Dajani with her book "Five Scarves"

In hopes of being a part of shaping a better world, Dr. Dajani concluded the interview by sends a motivational message to everyone saying: "Everyone is special, no one’s DNA is like anyone else. So you are very unique and have something unique to offer to the world. Look around you, and if you find something that needs to be fixed, start fixing it in yourself and then the wider community around you. And if somebody says who do you think you are? You are just a drop in the water, tell them: but what is the ocean except for millions of drops! So believe in yourself, dream big, nothing is impossible. Be the changemaker, be the catalyst."

And in conclusion, she reflects on the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright program and says: “Reflecting on the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program and the global pandemic that we’re going through together as humanity, the importance of reimaging education focusing on fostering education resilience motivating people to become lifelong learners because only through education we can foster empathy, build respect, create system-change to solve the challenges we’re facing in the 21st century.”

بالتفكير بالذكرى الخامسة والسبعين لتأسيس برنامج فولبرايت في العالم, والوباء الذي نمر به معاً كإنسانية، فإنه من المهم إعادة تصور التعليم بالتركيز على تعزيز المرونة التعليمية وتحفيز الناس ليكونوا متعلمين مدى الحياة، لأنه من خلال التعليم فقط يمكننا تعزيز التعاطف، وبناء الاحترام، وخلق تغيير للأنظمة لحل التحديات التي نواجهها في القرن الواحد والعشرين

Dr. Dajani’s story sets a great example of inspiration to many, especially women, that things can be done.

Dr. Dajani's message and advice to the youth (in Arabic):

The Fulbright Commission in Jordan thanks Dr. Rana for her time and dedication, and her continued work that makes her an inspiring figure in our ever-growing Fulbright global family.

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