Spotlight on Presidential Scholar Award Recipient Adam Badr

January 12, 2023

Adam Badr is a first-year student in CEU’s Philosophy, Politics and Economics BA program (PPE). He is originally from Glen Rock, New Jersey and, prior to studying at CEU, attended the Hungarian Diplomacy Academy in Budapest.

What does this honor mean for you?

I was so happy because I really understand that the Presidential Scholarship is competitive and quite an honor. I think there are many people at CEU who are equally deserving. Not only is it a great support for tuition, it is also an acknowledgement that reminds me I really do deserve to be here. It was a special ceremony to step up on stage and show my parents that my work is moving toward something.

What was your route to CEU?

I’m part Hungarian and lived in Budapest last year through this awesome program called the Hungarian Diplomacy Academy. Here, you essentially re-engage your roots with Hungary so third and fourth generation Hungarians who left during WWII to places like Argentina and Venezuela, or in 1956, are now coming back this one-year program. They cover housing and a small stipend, and you learn about the culture and study the Hungarian language. I worked at the Budapest Town Hall and assisted in the press sector to practice my Hungarian. This really helps my transition ultimately to Vienna.

It gave me a taste of Europe, which I really liked, and that's the main reason I applied to CEU. The new PPE program is perfect for me, and finances are a factor for my education, so going to the university here in Europe is less expensive than in the U. S. Also, the open society values to me as a multiracial person really matter.

What drives you in your work?

My heritage and culture. Most of my work in the U.S. and here in Europe is about my Hungarian or Egyptian origin. My father is Egyptian and my mother is Hungarian. I work in those two communities. I did campaign for political candidates and taught in the local Hungarian School in New Jersey. Teaching the young kids Hungarian was really rewarding and great to hold up our little Hungarian community there. I didn’t speak Arabic from birth as I did Hungarian and English, so working closely also with the Egyptian community in New Jersey put me more in touch with my culture and family and allowed me to improve my language skills. All these subcultures are a great thing about the U.S.

What is your experience so far in the BA program at CEU?

The CEU community is awesome. It's so diverse with people from many different countries. There is a combination of varied perspectives and discussions with people speaking up and expressing passionate views. I feel fortunate to be in this environment. I also really enjoy the CEU campus because it fosters social encounters especially in the student lounge.

I find the students friendly and the city very livable - of course Vienna was recognized as being the most livable city a couple years ago. I'm moving through the different neighborhoods and the city center has a lot of energy. It’s nice to enjoy a great variety here and the cost of living is not as bad as I anticipated.

What else would you like to express?

From what I've seen so far, CEU offers a global perspective. We don't just learn about the U.S. economy, we are getting cases from European and African states, which are important to keep in mind and to take a comparative view. As we delve into a mixture of geographies and challenges from various regions, I find myself thinking about the study abroad program. CEU has amazing partnerships and there are really a lot of options.

If you’re only studying, you’re not accessing CEUs full potential. You can meet people from all over the world and there's so much going on. I encourage people to really tap into this incredible cohort and find a balance between academics and social engagement.

The Presidential Scholars Fund was established by Michael Ignatieff and Zsuzsanna Zsohar. It supports four Presidential Graduate Research Awards for exceptional master’s and Doctoral students whose research shows promise for the next generation. The Fund also awards two scholarships per year to incoming bachelor's students demonstrating exceptional academic credentials and leadership promise.