‘To Learn and Serve’ Ahmad Ohmid Arman ’23 arrived on campus as a Gunn Scholar in 2021 and is making the most of his long-awaited W&L experience.
“I know why I came here and what to do: to learn and serve.”
~ Ahmad Ohmid Arman ’23
Most exchange students expect to only spend nine months abroad during their time within an exchange program. When Ahmad Ohmid Arman ’23 applied to attend Washington and Lee University on an international exchange, he had no idea that his time at W&L would evolve into so much more.
Arman, who had been studying at the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan, applied for and was awarded the Gunn Scholarship in 2020 as a rising junior, but he was unable to come to the United States that year due to Covid-19. His scholarship was deferred for one year, and he arrived on campus in fall 2021 amid the uncertainty of an ongoing pandemic, as well as political unrest in his home country, Afghanistan.
“It was a difficult year for me, not at all normal,” Arman said. “I rose above all these challenges, and my experience at W&L made me resilient. I know why I came here and what to do: to learn and serve.”
Established in 2000, the John M. Gunn International Scholarship invites eligible international students of exceptional academic, personal and professional promise to spend one year at W&L to augment the major studies they are engaged with at their home institutions. The scholarship pays the full tuition, room, board and transportation costs for one academic year. Gunn Scholars may come from any academic discipline, but preference is given to students who will focus some of their academic work in the Williams School and are interested in a liberal arts education. Gunn Scholars can also explore unique on-campus housing options such as the Global Service House.
Hunter Swanson, associate director of international education, supervises Arman’s work-study position in the Center for International Education. He noted that Arman’s work ethic and flexibility have allowed the transfer student to make the most of his W&L experience.
“He was just extremely adaptable,” Swanson said. “W&L provided him with some great opportunities, and then he used his motivation to truly take advantage of them. That’s what he’s been doing ever since he arrived on campus.”
Arman has whole-heartedly embraced the academic opportunities that W&L provides, spending so much time in Leyburn Library that he has befriended most of the employees. He was recently selected by the Politics Department to represent the university as a designated Schlegal Scholar at the 73rd annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA) from Nov. 2–5 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Swanson and Mark Rush, director of international education, got to know Arman through their involvement in his Gunn Scholarship selection process and deferral, as well as his eventual decision to attend W&L full time. Arman is on track to graduate from W&L in May 2023 with a degree in global politics. Rush said that various offices on campus — including the offices of Admissions, Financial Aid and Registrar — have provided excellent support for Arman’s acceptance as a transfer student and his acclimation to campus life.
“His success is really a reflection of the quality of people we work with here and their receptiveness to a good idea,” Rush said.
Arman continues to build relationships across campus with faculty in his major and in other disciplines, such as participating in an archaeological research project with Professor Alison Bell over the summer as a Leyburn Summer Research Scholar. His professors highlight his passion for learning and willingness to lead as key strengths.
“Ahmad has been a delight to have as a student in my class because of his intellectual curiosity and willingness to take risks as he answers questions about course readings,” said John K. Boardman Professor of Politics Lucas Morel. “He exhibits a genuine desire to learn, while also taking the lead when small groups report back to the class with answers to specific questions about course material. He also has a great sense of humor and humility that helps facilitate class discussion.”
To destress, Arman takes walks through the third-year village and said it is one of the places — along with Leyburn Library — he imagines he will revisit as an alumnus. He is in the process of applying to graduate programs in pursuit of a career in international diplomacy and is thankful to W&L for molding both his career path and commitment to civic engagement.
“I was born into conflict,” Arman said, “but I intend to dedicate my life to peace.”
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