Dream maker’s lessons on how to reach the ed­u­ca­tional heights in US

▶ Peter Davos helps young peo­ple in the Emirates to win schol­ar­ships for lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties in Amer­ica, writes Anam Rizvi

The National - News - - NEWS | EMIRATES -

Ed­u­ca­tion en­tre­pre­neur Peter Davos is of­fer­ing a vi­tal les­son to stu­dents across the Emirates never give up on your dreams.

For the 40-year-old Amer­i­can, it is a way of life rather than a mere motto.

His im­pov­er­ished Greek im­mi­grant par­ents sought out their own brighter fu­ture by mov­ing to the United States in the 1960s.

Decades later it was their son’s turn, when he was fi­nally ac­cepted by Har­vard Univer­sity, 11 years after he first ap­plied.

His tri­umph over ad­ver­sity in­spired him to help the next gen­er­a­tion of learn­ers to put no limit on what they can achieve.

He moved to Dubai seven years ago with the in­ten­tion to work in real es­tate, only to find he had a burn­ing de­sire to in­vest in peo­ple rather than prop­erty.

He set up Hale Ed­u­ca­tion Group, an ed­u­ca­tion con­sult­ing com­pany sup­port­ing UAE learn­ers who wish to study in Amer­ica, and has since helped more than 1,000 peo­ple com­plete their col­lege stud­ies.

“I wanted to do some­thing that gave me sat­is­fac­tion and I wanted to lever­age my ed­u­ca­tion.

“I wanted to help peo­ple achieve their goals through higher ed­u­ca­tion in the United States, and I feel like I was born to do this.”

Some of the stu­dents he has helped have gone on to fol­low in his foot­steps to study at Har­vard.

Hale Ed­u­ca­tion Group pro­vides men­tor­ships to stu­dents and helps them get schol­ar­ships and sum­mer pro­grammes.

It sup­ports many high achiev­ers who may not have the funds to pur­sue their goals.

“Many of these stu­dents have got schol­ar­ships and this is my way of giv­ing back to so­ci­ety.

“For high-achiev­ing stu­dents com­ing from challengin­g back­grounds, we help them get schol­ar­ships.

“I love Dubai and I found it was a very fer­tile environmen­t as it is easy to set up a busi­ness. Also, there is a de­mand from stu­dents who want to seek higher ed­u­ca­tion in the US.”

Mr Davos’ story be­gan in Brock­ton, Mas­sachusetts, where he knew from el­e­men­tary school that his dream was to be­come a Har­vard Univer­sity grad­u­ate.

“I re­mem­ber grad­u­at­ing from the lo­cal pub­lic el­e­men­tary school in sixth grade and telling ev­ery­one even then I would go to Har­vard.

“Although my par­ents were not ed­u­cated, they val­ued ed­u­ca­tion and en­rolled me in an elite school.”

Mr Davos grew up hear­ings sto­ries of his par­ents’ strug­gles and learn­ing the value of ed­u­ca­tion.

“My fa­ther grew up in ab­so­lute poverty in South­ern Greece where they had no elec­tric­ity or run­ning wa­ter.

“Both my par­ents mi­grated to the US from Greece. My fa­ther grew up in Ar­ca­dia at the end of the Sec­ond World War and dur­ing Greece’s civil war.

“He told me sto­ries about how, dur­ing some win­ters, planes had to airdrop food to feed the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion be­cause snow had made the roads im­pass­able, and how the com­mu­nists would re­peat­edly raid his house. He started work­ing at an early age and he never had the chance to at­tend high school.

“In Bos­ton, he worked hard and had a clear goal, build­ing a suc­cess­ful string of busi­nesses and be­com­ing a com­mer­cial real es­tate de­vel­oper. He met my mother, who never at­tended col­lege, and had me and my sis­ter.”

As a teenager, Mr Davos went door-to-door sell­ing sub­scrip­tions to mag­a­zines and re­ceived his first pay cheque when he was thir­teen.

He de­cided to take sum­mer classes at Har­vard when he was 16 in the hope of study­ing there.

“I stud­ied clas­sics and the ex­pe­ri­ence blew me away. We read the Iliad, the Odyssey, come­dies, tragedies. This was what I wanted to learn.

“I ap­plied to Har­vard as an un­der­grad­u­ate and didn’t get in. But, I knew I didn’t de­serve to be there and I had not earned it yet.

Mr Davos went to Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity and stud­ied clas­sics. Later, he stud­ied in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Lon­don School of Eco­nomics and Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and also com­pleted a mas­ters in his­tory at Ox­ford Univer­sity in the UK.

After work­ing with his fa­ther for some time he ap­plied to grad­u­ate pro­grammes in real es­tate and was ac­cepted at Har­vard Univer­sity 11 years after he first ap­plied.

“I cried when I got ac­cepted. Har­vard says no to you, you don’t say no to Har­vard, so off I went,” he said.

“I went to plays, mu­si­cal per­for­mances, all the mu­se­ums, I au­dited classes on Caribbean His­tory and Alexan­der the Great for fun. I was se­lected as Mar­shal of my grad­u­at­ing class, help­ing me to grad­u­ate first in my class.”

His ad­vice to stu­dents is to find their pas­sion and work to­wards it.

For high-achiev­ing stu­dents com­ing from challengin­g back­grounds, we help them get schol­ar­ships PETER DAVOS Ed­u­ca­tion en­tre­pre­neur

Pawan Singh / The Na­tional

Peter Davos tri­umphed over ad­ver­sity and it in­spired him to help the next gen­er­a­tion of learn­ers to put no limit on what they can do. He grad­u­ated first in his class at Har­vard

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