The BJ Wagner University Fellows Program

Senthia -Taybeh
Senthia is a freshman at Birzeit University studying History and Archeology. She is one of four children. She dreams to work as a tourism policewoman where she can protect Palestine’s heritage. Her hobbies are painting and writing poetry. 

  • Interviews are held for all applicants.
  • Each candidate completes a three page application prior to the interview.
  • The 2016 committee included Estephan Salameh,  Fida'a - our Library Coordinator - and an independent member from outside the Seraj community.
  • Criteria included: commitment to volunteer at Seraj libraries, active in their local communities, belief in the mission of Seraj, enrollment in a local university, minimum GPA, and financial need

Yasmin - Al Mizzra Al-Sharqiyyeh
Yasmin is a freshman at Birzeit University where she studies Public Administration. She is one of six children and spends spends her free time at the library where she loves to read novels. 

Helda - Taybeh
Helda is a sophomore at Birzeit University studying speech and hearing therapy. She is one of four children. She had good grades is high school and wanted to study medicine but her family couldn’t afford it. She loves working with people and hopes to help people in her village after college. She dreams of seeing the world outside of Palestine one day, and maybe even go to graduate school.

Salam - Kufor Ni’ameh
Salam is junior at Open Al-Quds University studying Finance. She is one of six children. She spends her free time writing stories. 


The Fellows Program

Jaida’ - Aida refugee camp
Jaida attends Bethlehem University where she studies Arabic and Journalism. She is one of eight children. She dreams to be a director and producer for films or tv shows that show the Palestinian society. She tutors in Arabic at the library. 

Rinad - Burham
Rinad is a senior at Birzeit University where she studies political science and journalism. She is one of seven children. Her many responsibilities include caring for her mother who is sick. Her hobbies are traditional embroidery, photography and theater. She dreams of having her own production company where she can develop documentaries. 

Mariam - Burham 
Mariam is in her second year at Birzeit University where she studies Public Administration. She is one of seven children. She dreams of supporting herself one day. 

Zaher - Deir Ammar refugee camp
Zaher is a sophomore at Open Al Quds University, studying special education for mentally challenged children. She dreams to have her own class in her village one day where she can teach handicapped children. She said she never read books outside of school until she started volunteering at Seraj and now she loves to read in her free time. 

Isra’ - Deir Ammar refugee camp
Isra’ is a junior at Open Al-Quds University studying Business Administration. She would like to have her own business one day, though she hasn’t decided what she would like to specialize in. She loves volunteering at the library because she enjoys being with people.

Eman - Kufor Ni’ameh
Eman is a sophomore at Birzeit University studying Public Administration and is one of six children. She loves dancing dabke, horseback riding and traveling. 

Amani - Kufor Ni’ameh
Amani is a sophomore at Open Al-Quds University studying Finance. She had dreamed to go to Birzeit and study literature, but her family couldn’t afford it. She has also had to drop out of school for two semesters because her family couldn’t afford the tuition. She is one of six children. Despite her chosen major, she is a passionate writer, both of poetry and novels. In her free time she is completing a novel which she hopes to dedicate to Seraj because of the library’s encouragement and support to her. 

 Who was Betty Jean (BJ) Wagner?

First of all, a great friend of the Palestinian people. With her husband, Harold Kimball, she made several trips to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, visiting Seraj libraries, delighting in the children who gathered there. BJ was an internationally-recognized  scholar and teacher of reading and both she and her husband were Board members and deeply committed supporters. When she died in August of 2014 a Seraj fund was established to honor BJ's life and work. We trust BJ would be very pleased with our plans for these gifts.

Jamila - Al Mizzra Al-Sharqiyyeh
Jamila is a junior at Open Al-Quds University where she studies English. She is one of four children. She believes in the transformative power of books and said she dreams of living in a conscientious society one day, hopefully in Palestine. She dreams to work with children because it is through children that society can be changed. 

Aseel - Kufor Ni’ameh
Aseel is a junior studying pharmacology at Birzeit University. She is one of six children. She prides herself on her work ethic and her independence, and aspires to make her parents proud of her. After graduation she hopes to get a job that would allow her to support her family, and in particular, her brother who has MS. She loves to read and believes it can change lives. 

Resan - Kufor Ni’ameh
Resan is a sophomore at Open Al-Quds University studying Mathematics. She is one of six children. Before he passed away, her father instilled in her a spirit of volunteerism and freedom. She enjoys volunteering at the library and helping children with their school work while also showing them it’s a good quality to be different from their peers. She dreams of completing her master’s degree one day.

Fifteen  BJ Wagner Fellows - named Spring 2016 

Rana - Aida refugee camp
Rana began studying at Bethlehem University, but when her family couldn’t afford the tuition, she transferred to Open Al-Quds University where she studies English Literature. She is one of six children and has many responsibilities at home where she helps to care for her sick mother. She volunteers at the library tutoring children after school. Rana spends all of her free time reading English novels and she is passionate about translation. She dreams to have a driver’s license, learn a third language and earn a master’s degree. She would love to work as a translator on Palestine one day.