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24 January 2013

Bethlehem University Alumna Elected First Female Mayor of Bethlehem

"I found hope at the heart of where my educational journey had begun at Bethlehem University, the beginning of my career and what would become a great stepping stone for my future."

Every Christmas, international focus is on Bethlehem, the place of Jesus' birth. This winter, Bethlehem is again in the spotlight, this time for electing its first female mayor, Ms. Vera Baboun. A graduate of Bethlehem University (class of '85), Ms. Vera has invested deeply in Bethlehem University – not only as a graduate but also as faculty.

As a former English faculty member at Bethlehem University, Ms. Vera’s lectures were inspiring and memorable for her former students. Until her recent mayoral election victory, she continued her work in education, serving as the principal at a Catholic High School in neighboring Beit Sahour. Though she is now assuming mayoral duties, she continues to work toward her PhD. Highly regarded by students and colleagues alike, Ms. Vera is a great triumph for all Palestinian women and is indeed a positive role model for future generations, though she is unpretentious and unassuming.

"An optimistic character radiates hope and promise for many others to follow," Ms. Vera said. However, her success did not come without challenge, and she encountered a bumpy road and many detours to her success. Through her strong will and resilience, she managed to overcome what would have been impossible for many.

"My husband was imprisoned by the Israeli Authorities," Ms. Vera said. "I was left with five kids to look after, having just graduated from Bethlehem University and in a desperate state to feed my family, Ms. Vera BabounI found hope at the heart of where my educational journey had begun at Bethlehem University, the beginning of my career and what would become a great stepping stone for my future." 

It was here at Bethlehem University, in the summer of 1985, when a young, ambitious Ms. Vera marched with confidence across the auditorium to collect her hard-earned degree in English literature. At the time, Dr. Violet Fasheh was the Dean of the newly established Faculty of Education, while Br. Thomas Scanlon was the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University. Then, in the early '90s, Ms. Vera returned to Bethlehem University, this time as an English lecturer. In addition to teaching the standard course material for English, Ms. Vera recognized the importance of integrating relevant and related topics, such as gender equality and human rights.

"If you want to create change, you have to start with yourself from within in order to create the change in others," Ms. Vera said.

No stranger to creating change in one of the world's oldest religious cities, Ms. Vera will certainly face challenges, particularly during a time of political instability and a weak economy in Palestine. It will be a tough challenge for the new Mayor, but Ms. Vera and her team at Bethlehem Municipality will work persistently as this Holy City continues to shine.

 

See article on Haaretz: https://bethlehem.edu/document.doc?id=809

 

 
Bethlehem University Foundation
Email: brds@bufusa.org
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
E-mail: info@bethlehem.edu
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine