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Known for Being

The first Muslim woman to graduate from the American University of Beirut (AUB) with a degree in higher education.

Major Accomplishments

Ihsan Ahmed El-Kousy was the first Muslim woman to graduate from the American University of Beirut (AUB) with a degree in higher education. Encouraged by her progressive parents, El-Kousy felt the desire to pursue higher education early on in life. Both her parents and her grandparents had stood high in Egyptian literary and scientific circles, and she grew up surrounded by an atmosphere of books and learning. Upon her arrival at AUB, El-Kousy discovered that her English level was not advanced enough to follow through with the courses, so she began her education as an auditor. At the end of her second year, El-Kousy, encouraged by AUB's president Dodge, applied to become a regular student. She chose to major in Education and passed all her exams with success, graduating with a BA degree in 1929. From that point onwards, she excelled in the field of education, becoming an influential example of the capabilities of the women in fields dominated by men.

Returning to Egypt after completing her degree, she was immediately appointed principal of Sanieh Secondary School. She kept this post for one year, then moved to Alexandria to be the headmistress of a primary school. There she stayed for three years, following which she was called to lecture on social subjects, history, civics, and ethics in various secondary schools for eight more years. In 1953, she became the Dean of Girls' Higher Institute for Social Work, an institution of university standards. Her interest in social work prompted her to pursue activities in various fields of Egyptian life. She helped found and served on the boards of the Egyptian Feminist Union, Maadi Child Welfare, and Home for Delinquent Children. El-Kousy served as vice president of the Cairo branch of the AUB Alumni Association at the time. Her various activities had a marked effect in numerous spheres of Egyptian day-to-day life.

Last modified: 01/09/2019

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