Dalia's Story

Dalia ElmeligeDalia Elmelige
2017 USF graduate and Provost Scholar
2017 Fulbright US Student Program Study Grant to the United Kingdom

Dalia Elmelige, a 2017 graduate of the University of South Florida (USF), is a recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Study Grant to the United Kingdom. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Dalia earned her bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Anthropology from USF. In addition to being a USF Provost’s Scholar, her many undergraduate accomplishments include an internship at the Carter Center (founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter), and spearheading a humanitarian effort during a study abroad experience in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Her desire to help protect displaced and underserved populations strengthened when she was offered the opportunity to translate terrorism videos from Arabic to English as an intern assigned to the “Countering ISIS Propaganda” project at the Carter Center. “The project allowed me to recognize patterns and design a coding sheet which typifies ISIS’s various forms of propaganda,” she says. “This data helps community leaders understand ISIS’s media strategies.”

Dalia’s assignment to this project was pivotal for her career decisions. "The videos were so graphic and violent to watch. I knew I needed to make a difference in the world and decided to pursue a career in international public service with a focus on human security,” she says.

Her advising relationship with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) began during her freshman year at USF. “I saw the ONS Open House listed in the Week of Welcome events,” says Dalia. “I met Hiram Ríos Hernández (a four-time national scholarship award recipient) at the open house, and he encouraged me to apply for national scholarships - I didn’t know about national scholarships prior to that event.”

Dalia’s initial attempts at national scholarship applications were lessons in persistence. “I applied for the Critical Language Scholarship and Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program in 2014 – and didn’t win either award,” she says. “In 2015, Ms. Lauren Chambers (ONS Associate Director) worked with me on the application for the U.S. Department of State internship – it was my first national scholarship award.”

Dalia also worked closely with ONS on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program application. “They helped me articulate my goals and taught me how to present myself as a professional and purposeful academic,” she says. “The application process was long and arduous at times, but they always provided the necessary support that pushed me to succeed. Ms. Chambers and Dr. Basu (ONS Director) helped me become the driven person I am today.”

After graduating from USF, through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Dalia traveled to the United Kingdom to complete a graduate program in Development and Security at the University of Bristol. As a Fulbrighter in the U.K., Dalia experienced a new education system and met an array of people from around the world, including others in the Fulbright to the U.K. cohort who are still her friends and colleagues today. She was invited to speak on a panel at the 2018 Fulbright Seminar in Berlin, Germany, and completed her graduate degree dissertation on refugee identity in Greece.

In fall 2018, Dalia began serving as a Princeton in Africa Fellow based in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. Princeton in Africa (PiAf) develops young leaders committed to Africa’s advancement by offering yearlong fellowship opportunities with a variety of organizations that work across the African continent. As a PiAf Fellow, Dalia works for an organization called Resonate - a social enterprise focused on the empowerment of women and girls in East Africa. This goal is achieved through a series of workshops and programs focused on storytelling, professional development, and action leadership.

Dalia works with Resonate to ensure that Rwandan women and girls gain skills, resources, and self-confidence to turn opportunities into actionable strategies. “Living and working with women in Rwanda has been an incredibly enlightening experience. My colleagues and the women that participate in Resonate's confidence building workshops have truly taught me so much about myself and my strength as a woman and a leader. I learn so much every day,  and I know that I will emerge from this experience as a stronger person overall,” she says. 

This story is featured in the 2017-2018 edition of Legacies.