Through the Bishara Educational Fund, Rafik and Pat Bishara have donated funds to support Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis students. The Bisharas started their Educational Fund in 2017 with the mission to specifically help women earn a higher education.
"Sometimes women are not treated as fairly as men,” Rafik said. "Our goal has always been to help single moms achieve an education that would allow them and their children to have good work opportunities and a good life."
Rafik and Pat believe in the power of education and know it can open doors and provide opportunities that can lead to success. "We believe in the value of education," Rafik said. "You can lose your job, your parents, your spouse, your car, etc., but nobody can take your education. Once you have an associate or bachelor's degree, it's yours for life."
Rafik is an American immigrant from Cairo, Egypt. He arrived in the USA with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He continued his graduate education for his Master’s and Doctorate degrees at Butler and Purdue Universities, respectively.
After more than 35 years of working at Eli Lilly and Company, Rafik H. Bishara, Ph.D., retired as the Director of Quality Knowledge Management and Technical Support at the end of 2004. Since retiring, he has been working as a global technical advisor for cold chain management of medicine and vaccines. Rafik is actively publishing, teaching, providing technical advice, training, and chairing conferences. He has led several workshops around the world, and locally he has taught at the Indianapolis campus of Ivy Tech, and the University of Indianapolis. He has seen and experienced first-hand the value of education and the opportunities that it creates.
Several years ago, a friend from Cairo, Egypt called Rafik and said their daughter was ready for college. He asked for his help getting her into a school in the United States. Rafik helped her enroll at Ivy Tech. "After earning high grades at Ivy Tech, she enrolled at IUPUI, where she was assisted to receive a $10,000 scholarship for two years. She graduated from IUPUI and is now excelling at her job.” It was through helping this young lady earn a college degree that gave the Bisharas the idea and desire to create a foundation to help other women earn a college degree. It all started at Ivy Tech.
In addition to providing financial support for education, Pat is passionate about having childcare available for single parents who are taking classes at the Indianapolis campus of Ivy Tech. They have been collaborating with Allyson Eberhart, the Director of Development Operations, and Danielle Stiles-Polk, the Vice Chancellor of Development & Alumni Relations. The Bisharas hope that an on-campus daycare will soon become a reality. "Allyson and Danielle have provided guidance on creating a program that meets the needs of the students and the community.”
Pat was recently diagnosed with dementia and is currently enrolled in a clinical trial for a new drug under development to help with Alzheimer’s disease. Since her diagnosis, she has written two papers on living with memory challenges and encourages others who also struggle in the same capacity to find their way to the Indiana Alzheimer's Association. She feels a calling to bring education about Alzheimer’s and help others in her situation get the care that they need.
As faithful Christians, the Bisharas share that they find joy in helping others. “We are called to help the last, the lost and the least fortunate. We believe, according to the Bible, that it is in giving that you receive. Our blessed life has been an example of this. The more we give and help, the more blessings continue to come from the Good Lord.”
About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.