A letter from Joe Jean – From the Rubble of Haiti, to UoPeople, to NYU Abu Dhabi

Joe Jean picture


Dear President Reshef,

I am writing you to thank you, although a simple thank you cannot convey the overwhelming gratitude I feel. You changed my entire life.

I am emotional as I write this because I don’t know if you, or anyone, can really comprehend the position I was in three years ago, and how hard life was for me. Only then, can you grasp the magnitude of the impact UoPeople has made on me, and on my family .

In 2009, I was living under very different conditions back in Haiti. My family was too poor to afford college and I was constantly worried about my future. When the earthquake came we lost even the little we had. In late February 2010, during the intensely difficult post-earthquake time, I discovered that I could study for free online at University of the People. It all felt like a dream, too good to be true. Not just someone, but a whole organization, cared about my future, and the futures of people like me. I applied to UoPeople because I knew that this education would be the only way out of the ruins surrounding me and the situation I was in. Yes, University of the People changed my life. Even more, thanks to the partnership UoPeople has with NYU, I became your first student, on a full scholarship, to be accepted to NYU Abu Dhabi, one of the most selective universities in the world. I know that anything is possible now! There aren’t enough words that can express my happiness and appreciation for what you have done for me.

I have been able to make a better life for myself because of UoPeople, and the chance this wonderful institution provided me – a poor guy from Haiti with nothing but the desire for a different life. But I’m not the only one; there are so many other young boys and girls like me whose life is being considerably changed – right now – or in the near future, through the education UoPeople is providing them. I only hope that the world listens to my story, and the stories of the other students, so that people are mobilized to support UoPeople for decades to come. What a changed world we will have.

Thank you so much.

From the bottom of my heart,






About President Shai Reshef

Starting in 1989, Shai Reshef served as chairman of the Kidum Group, a test preparation company, which he sold in 2005 to Kaplan, one of the world’s largest education companies. While chairman of Kidum, he built an online university affiliated with the University of Liverpool, enrolling students from more than 100 countries; that business was sold to Laureate, another large for-profit education company, in 2004. A vessel for universal higher education, UoPeople has the enormous potential to function as a global stimulus package, reaching even the most remote and poorest places on earth. Our ultimate mission is to democratize higher education and, if the past two years are any indication, this is not merely a pipe dream.
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3 Responses to A letter from Joe Jean – From the Rubble of Haiti, to UoPeople, to NYU Abu Dhabi

  1. Doug says:

    Reblogged this on The Snallygaster and commented:
    I have mentioned my gratitude for University of the People on this blog, but after reading the letter that fellow student Joe Jean wrote to UoP I am even more sure of the fact that education can be changed…will be changed…not just for those of us who are struggling with student loan debt in the United States, but for those who never dreamed that they could get a university education after natural disasters, economic disruptions, political coups, etc.

  2. Daniel says:

    I happen to share your story Joe. A big thank you to President Reshef and UoPeople for this wonderful and awesome opportunity that they have and are providing to us! Words can never be enough when you know your step is now heading towards the right direction. I love UoPeople so very much and its my hope and prayer that more and more young people like me will still be able to having access to higher education through UoPeople.

  3. abil cameroon says:

    I really feel you and wish it happens to others. Especially young cameroonians who can’t aFford education at the graduate and post graduate levels

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