Technion student receives 2013 Google scholarship for disabled

Ahmed Zaid Abassi, who is visually impaired, will be awarded 1,000 euro scholarship at Google offices in Zurich.

June 25, 2013 17:12
2 minute read.
Ahmed Zaid Abassi

Google scholarship winner 370. (photo credit: Courtesy of Technion spokesperson's office)

A third-year student at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology who is visually impaired, Ahmed Zaid Abassi, received this week the 2013 Google Scholarship for students with disabilities.

The scholarship, in the amount of 7,000 euros, will be awarded to Abassi at Google’s offices in Zurich, along with 16 other winners from all over Europe later this year.

According to Google, winners are chosen each year from dozens of candidates who have demonstrated excellence in and passion for computer science, computer engineering, informatics and other closely related technical fields.

Eligible candidates are students with mental health or other long-term health conditions, including dyslexia, visual impairment, hearing impairment, diabetes, epilepsy, depression, anxiety disorders, and any other physical or mental impairments or health conditions.

Prof. Yossi Gil of the Technion’s Faculty of Computer Science – who taught Abassi a programming languages course in his second year of studies – had recommended him for the scholarship.

“I don’t usually write letters of recommendation for scholarships for students who have not yet completed their studies,” he wrote in his letter to Google, “I also don’t usually recommend students from other faculties, but as a lecturer who taught and accompanied Ahmed for the past year, I recommend him wholeheartedly.

“People with disabilities are usually mostly supported by society,” Gil continued, but “Ahmed’s case is different.

Not only is he exceptionally smart and learns like every other students, he also helps others and gives private lessons in mathematics, physics and computer science to other students in his class.”

Abassi, who speaks four languages – Arabic, Hebrew, English and French – was born in the United States to a Muslim family and suffers from nystagmus, a disease causing a constant and involuntary flicker of the eye and strong sensitivity to light, causing him to be almost totally blind.

Throughout his childhood, which he spent in Israel, Abassi’s parents refused to enroll him in special education schools, insisting that he study in the regular education system.

“They always protect me,” Abassi said, “but also fought for my right to do everything.”

“They did not raise me in cotton wool, but always gave me the freedom to choose my future and draw my own destiny,” he added.

Abassi said he is “very excited” to receive the scholarship and stressed that “this is a unique and special opportunity primarily thanks to the global name of Google and its added value in the high-tech industry.”

At his request, Gil will accompany Abassi to receive his prize in Zurich.

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