Besart Çopa albania, 19

project: albania scholarship effort (AsE)

basic human needs: education

Theme Song: "The Real Slim Shady" by Eminem

At 15 years old, Besart was the first Albanian to receive a full scholarship to a Swiss boarding school. His new school felt like paradise to him compared to his academic experience in Albania. Besart thought it was unfair that so many intelligent, talented students in Albania couldn’t afford a quality education and didn’t know international scholarships existed. Determined to give all students the same opportunity, regardless of their economic situation, Besart founded Discipuli Aquilae. Now named the Albania Scholarship Effort, they consult with students, teachers and parents on scholarship opportunities, and how students can initiate their own projects to benefit their communities.

With mentorship from ASE, students have gone on to tackle a variety of causes, from fundraising for orphanages to organizing an exhibition to show the struggle of minorities. With the endorsement of Albania’s Ministry of Education, Besart has access to every public school in Albania, and has already expanded into Madagascar. While Besart’s immediate goal is to give low-income students access to scholarships, he hopes to create a network of international leaders who use their education to better their future communities, and pay it forward to future leaders. After submission to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Besart’s international plan for ASE was recognized as one of the top ten solutions at Vatican's Youth Symposium. If selected, with support from the UN, Besart will scale his work globally.