Over 13 years ago, when first-generation Lebanese immigrants Hana and Zoheir Abdelbaki, MD, were looking for a school for their three children, Wellington immediately stood out. “When we toured Wellington, we saw the flags from all over the world hanging in the cafeteria. I saw the flag of Lebanon and thought, ‘this school understands the importance of educating kids about global issues.’ This was the most important thing for my family, honestly,” says Hana, who works for a refugee resettlement agency helping immigrants integrate and become active members of the Columbus community.
The Abdelbakis moved from Lima, Ohio, where Zoheir has a thriving cardiology practice, to Upper Arlington, so their children could attend Wellington. They built a house near the school to help them stay closely connected—something that became especially beneficial as Sarah ’18, Serene ’20, and Amer ’22 signed up for extracurricular activities in middle school.
Sarah, who loves the humanities and often acted in plays as a Wellington student, now majors in economics and minors in international studies and French at the University of Michigan; she’s currently in the process of applying to law school. Serene, whose interests tend toward logic and science, is studying neuroscience at The Ohio State University and minoring in Arabic. Their younger brother, Amer, is now a junior at Wellington, and loves writing and playing the piano.
The Abdelbakis appreciate that Wellington has fostered each of their children’s individuality. “I have three different kids, with three different interests, and Wellington understands and knows that each kid is different,” says Hana, who notes that even the college counseling process is catered to individual student’s needs. “I’ve seen it not only with my own children, but also with their friends who are so happy with their choice of colleges. This speaks a lot about how Wellington helps students find their best fit.”
Without family in Ohio, the Abdelbakis have enjoyed the sense of community Wellington has provided. Says Hana, “Especially in our culture, there is so much emphasis on surrounding your kids with many mentors and role models. I have such a great appreciation for the teachers and staff members, who are like a second set of eyes for my kids. And I’ve enjoyed getting to know the students and their parents. It’s been an amazing experience.”
I have three different kids, with three different interests, and Wellington understands and knows that each kid is different.
In addition to the many hours Hana has put in volunteering at the school store and the library, she’s also in the midst of her second four-year term on Wellington’s Board of Trustees. Her board leadership, coupled with the family’s philanthropic giving to Wellington, is an important way they give back.
The Believing Campaign has offered another avenue for the Abdelbakis to support their school. “We’ve been at Wellington a long time, and we’ve witnessed the school grow building-wise and in every other way. Just living it and seeing the expansion, you feel like you want to be a part of it,” says Zoheir. “When my kids drive by the school 20 years from now, it will still feel like home.”
The Abdelbakis have never forgotten where they came from. Zoheir recalls his parents struggling financially to provide for him and his seven siblings back in Lebanon, but education was always important. “It’s a great feeling to know that my kids don’t have to go through what I went through financially, but I grew up in an environment where any money spent for education is not a waste—it’s a good investment,” says Zoheir. “Wellington has been like my kids’ second home. It’s a pleasure spending when you put it toward that cause.”
Do you believe in Wellington? Join the Abdelbaki family in making a gift to the Believing campaign today. Learn more at wellington.org/believing.