Yesterday, Saleem Ghubril, Director of the Pittsburgh Promise, visited Obama to talk to students about his life and work. Mr. Ghubril, who was described by one of Obama’s teachers as “one of the best public speakers I’ve ever heard,” spent an hour speaking to about 40 students from all of Obama’s classes. Mr. Ghubril discussed his personal journey from war-ravaged Lebanon to a small town in Iowa where he didn’t know what prom was to Pittsburgh, where he arrived in 1984 to work for a church on the North Side with his wife and daughter. As he explained, what he thought would be a three or four year thing turned into a 34-year period, during which time Mr. Ghubril led the Pittsburgh Project before moving over the the Pittsburgh Promise in 2007. Mr. Ghubril then began fielding questions from students on topics from UPMC’s funding of the Promise to mistakes he might have made a decade ago, when the Promise was first started. Mr. Ghubril was well received by students, who were always polite in their questioning about changes recently made the amount of money given by the Promise to students. He explained that the changes were made to ensure that every student attending a school in Pennsylvania gets some funding to ease their way through college, and that the recent setting of the maximum amount of money that can be given to a student at $5,000 brings the Promise into line with efforts like the federal Pell Grant.
We are grateful to Mr. Ghubril for taking the time out of his busy schedule to visit, and he is always welcome back at Obama. The next speaker coming to Obama as part of the Speaker series will be Douglas Levine, a pianist, composer, and music director who has worked with just about all the major theatrical organizations in the city, from Point Park University Conservatory Company to the Renaissance City Women’s Choir. Mr. Levine will be coming to Obama on April 13th during QRT.