Manor College Student Talks On Palestine, Becoming a Teacher and How a First-Generation Scholarship Helped Her

Amani Kayed (Northeast High School) studies Early Childhood Education at Manor College.

Amani Kayed cringes when people ask the Palestinian college student if she has any family in Gaza. She does – grandparents that live in the West Bank – but her frustration lies in the way the question is asked. 

“The way the question is posed, it makes it seem like everything there is OK if you don’t have family there,” Kayed said. “But that’s not how I view it. My blood is Palestinian. When people ask the question, I tell them, ‘Everyone in Palestine is family’ because they are.”

Kayed, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, has made several trips to her homeland over the course of her life, most recently this summer. She describes it as a place with “loving air” that is “rich in culture. 

“You just hear how the older generation talks about it and it’s so beautiful,” Kayed said. “Sitting outside there and looking at the view, there is nothing in the world like that to me. Palestine is the soul of my soul.” 

The fighting between Israel and Palestine isn’t unfamiliar territory, but the most recent set of escalations have been typically bothersome for Kayed. 

Kayed first heard the news in October while working at a furniture retail chain. Her manager, who is also Palestinian, began crying. 

“The videos that you see on Instagram and TikTok are devastating,” Kayed said. “Real people are there. Kids are dying from hunger. The feeling is unexplainable. I hope to go back in the summer when the attacks are over and help them rebuild.”


Spend a few minutes with Kayed and you’ll feel the old-school nature of her personality. It’s evident in the way she describes taking a walk in Palestine under blue skies and rich, sea air. It shines through in the way she talks about her childhood.

“When I think back to when I was a child, I think of playing and just having fun,” Kayed said. “We’d be at someone’s house playing made-up games or outside..” 

Her first grade teacher at Anne Frank Elementary School in Philadelphia hugged each child when they came to school. Kayed remembers how every student felt welcomed and wanted to go to school just because of that hug. Currently, she’s pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education to be that welcoming presence for a new generation.

“I want this generation to have raw memories outside of technology,” Kayed said. “I want them to go out and experience the world beyond a screen.” 

Kayed enrolled in Manor College last Fall to pursue a degree in Early Childhood education. 

Kayed received a scholarship for Refugee, Immigrant and First-Generation college students. 

“I didn’t want to take out loans because of the interest,” Kayed said. “The scholarship helped me a lot. It’s less of a burden now on me and my parents.”

Kayed first became familiar with Manor College through her sister, Karmel Kayed ‘14. Karmel Kayed graduated from Manor with an Associate’s Degree in Pre-Pharmacy. 

“She told me this place would be perfect for me,” Kayed said. “When you’re in a larger college, it’s harder for a teacher to focus on you. Here, that’s not the case.” 

Kayed pointed to her relationship with Dr. Cherie Crosby-Weeks, Program Director for Early Childhood Education. When Kayed struggles, she knows she can email Dr. Crosby-Weeks at any point, and receives an answer almost immediately. It’s the same sense of warmth she once received as a first grader. 

“She’s like a mom to me at Manor,” Kayed said. “The teachers are so understanding. I enjoy being here because it’s a loving community and I can go to anyone and ask for help.”

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