Souhail (Lebanon)




The Coach

Souhail is Lebanese and was a junior in high school in Beirut when he was referred to The Short List. He was hoping to earn a degree in engineering from a U.S. college, so his parents engaged The Short List to help guide their son through the admissions process. We started by trying to uncover what made Souhail special.

The more Souhail shared with us, the more we could see that he loved soccer. He had been playing since he was a little boy and was now the captain of his high school team. But his leadership extended well beyond his school team. He organized his teammates to build a soccer field for boys at a local refugee camp and was able to obtain donated soccer balls for their practices and games. The boys were not accustomed to being organized or disciplined, and had little trust for anyone outside the camp. over the next 18 months, Souhail and his friends organized regular practices, helped the boys build their skill level, and arranged games. Slowly, Souhail gained the boys’ trust and saw changes in them that most people would not have dreamed possible.

One day, Souhail and his teammates showed up for a practice only to find the refugee camp abandoned. The boys had been taken away the day before, and Souhail was given no further information on where they had gone. He was devastated because he had bonded with many of the boys and worried about their future. The experience changed his life, and Souhail wanted to find a way to continue community outreach in college. Souhail’s family dissuaded him from applying to binding Early Decision programs because he had not been able to visit many schools. They asked The Short List to come up with a list. We looked for schools with strong engineering programs, as well as strong outreach programs. Souhail was accepted to several schools but chose Villanova, a Catholic school outside Philadelphia, for its Top 10 engineering program and its reputation for having one of the most community service-oriented student bodies in the United States.

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