Interview with Fraiberg Scholar, Ismail Abu Arafeh

“Remember that the experiences and memories you create during your time as a student will stay with you for a lifetime, so make sure to fully embrace and enjoy this special time” (I. Abu Arafeh, personal communication, February 11, 2023).  

Mr. Abu Arafeh graduated from the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in international studies with a minor in business and finance in 2007. He grew up in Palestine, where he currently works. I had the honor of interviewing him when I learned that he received the Fraiberg Scholarship. Essentially, this scholarship is offered to international students exclusively by invitation with impressive backgrounds and is a full ride scholarship which is funded by several sources.  

Image source: UNDP, “Our Team”, 2023. Accessed via

Mr. Abu Arafeh was like any other high school student in their last year. However, he knew that he didn’t really want to study at a local institution. So, he decided to research and reach out to over 50 universities and colleges in the United States. Of the over 50 universities and colleges, Ms. Majorie Smith, an admissions counselor at the time at DU, had personally contacted him and extended an invitation to apply for the Fraiberg Scholarship. With that exchange alone, Mr. Abu Arafeh became more intrigued by the university. “Upon further research and exploration of the school, [he] was impressed by its academic programs, resources, and vibrant campus community, all of which solidified [his] decision to attend [the University of Denver]” (I. Abu Arafeh, personal communication, February 11, 2023).  

When asked about what it was like receiving the Fraiberg Scholarship, Mr. Abu Arafeh recalls that he was taking a course in preparation for university studies at a local institution when he was received the news. He immediately called his dad for he was a great source of support throughout this entire experience.  

Shortly after, Mr. Abu Arafeh arrived in Denver, starting his journey as an undergraduate at the University of Denver. He describes his time as “nothing short of incredible” and how “[t]he memories of walking around campus, meeting new people and forming lifelong connections still bring a smile to [his] face and [b]eing involved in on-campus leadership opportunities was a source of immense pride and personal satisfaction…[and l]iving on campus…was a life-changing experience, as it gave [him] the independence and freedom to fully immerse [himself] in the university community” (I. Abu Arafeh, personal communication, February 11, 2023).  

As a Fraiberg Scholar, Mr. Abu Arafeh was offered numerous opportunities both during his time at DU and after graduation. He explains that “[t]he scholarship provided [him] with a platform to study at one of the top universities in the US, which has been instrumental in shaping [his] character and career. The in-class and on-campus experiences helped me develop a wide range of skills, making me a highly sought after professional. The opportunities provided by the scholarship have also helped [him] to grow intellectually and become an innovative leader. The exposure to different cultures and experiences has enabled [him] to be adaptable and versatile in [his] personal and professional life” (I. Abu Arafeh, personal communication, February 11, 2023).   

Currently, Mr. Abu Arafeh works as Head of Solutions Mapping at UNDP where he leads the development of a new portfolio aimed at empowering artisans, farmers, and communities to access new markets by promoting their sustainable and ethical practices. Their goal is to help these groups transition to value-based offerings and provide them with access to markets globally that will reward sustainable and ethical practices. “Ultimately, [his] vision for this portfolio is to help create a more sustainable and equitable future for all those involved” (I. Abu Arafeh, personal communication, February 11, 2023). 

For more, check out the interview on our YouTube! It’ll go live next week on Wednesday, April 5, 2023.

Work Cited

Abu Arafeh, Ismail. Personal Communication. 11 February, 2023.

UNDP, “Our Team”, 2023. Accessed via

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.