Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 July 2019

UAE Portrait of a Nation: the education expert 'born' to make American dreams come true

Peter Davos helps UAE students get scholarships to top universities in the United States

Peter Davos, founder of Hale Education Group, is helping UAE students pursue academic goals in the United States. Pawan Singh / The National
Peter Davos, founder of Hale Education Group, is helping UAE students pursue academic goals in the United States. Pawan Singh / The National

Education entrepreneur Peter Davos is offering a vital lesson to students across the Emirates - never give up on your dreams.

For the 40-year-old American, it is a way of life rather than a mere motto.

His impoverished Greek immigrant parents sought out their own brighter future by moving to the United States in the 1960s.

Decades later it was their son's turn, when he was finally accepted by Harvard University, 11 years after he first applied.

His triumph over adversity inspired him to help the next generation of learners to put no limits on what they can achieve.

He moved to Dubai seven years ago with the intention to work in real estate, only to find he had a burning desire to invest in people rather than property.

He set up Hale Education Group, an education consulting company supporting UAE learners who wish to study in America, and has since helped more than 1,000 people complete their college studies.

"I wanted to do something that gave my satisfaction and I wanted to leverage my education.

"I wanted to help people achieve their goals through higher education in the United States and I feel like I was born to do this."

Some of the students he has helped have gone on to follow in his footsteps by studying at Harvard.

Hale Education Group provides mentorships to students and helps them get scholarships and summer programmes.

It supports many high achieving students who may not have the funds to pursue their goals.

"Many of these students have got scholarships and this is my way of giving back to society.

"For high achieving students coming from challenging backgrounds, we help them get scholarships.

"I love Dubai and I found it was a very fertile environment as it easy to set up a business. Also, here there is a demand from students who want to seek higher education in the US."

I wanted to help people achieve their goals

Peter Davos

Mr Davos' story began in Brockton, Massachusetts, where he knew from elementary school that his dream was to be a Harvard University graduate.

"I remember graduating from the local public elementary school in sixth grade and telling everyone even then I would go to Harvard.

"Although my parents were not educated, they valued education and enrolled me in an elite school."

Mr Davos grew up hearings stories of his parents' struggles and learning the value of education.

"My father grew up in absolute poverty in Southern Greece where they had no electricity or running water.

"Both my parents migrated to the US from Greece. My father grew up in Arcadia at the end of World War II and during Greece's Civil War.

"He told me stories about how, during some winters, planes had to airdrop food to feed the local population because snow had made the roads impassable, and how the communists would repeatedly raid his house. He started working at an early age and he never had the chance to attend high school.

"In Boston, he worked hard and had a clear goal, building a successful string of businesses and becoming a commercial real estate developer. He met my mother, who never attended college, and had me and my sister."

As a teenager, Mr Davos went door-to-door selling subscriptions to magazines and received his first pay cheque when he was thirteen.

Peter decided to take summer classes at Harvard when he was 16 in the hope of studying there in the future.

"I studied classics and the experience blew me away. We read the Iliad, the Odyssey, comedies, tragedies. This was what I wanted to learn.

"I applied to Harvard as an undergraduate and didn't get in. But, I knew I didn't deserve to be there and I had not earned it yet.

Mr Davos went to Johns Hopkins University and studied classics. Later, he studied international relations at London School of Economics and Political Science and also completed a masters in history at Oxford University in UK.

After working with his father for some time he applied to graduate programs in real estate and was accepted at Harvard University 11 years after he had applied for the first time.

"I cried when I got accepted. Harvard says no to you, you don't say no to Harvard, so off I went," he said.

"I was determined to make the most out of every single moment, and I did.

"I went to plays, musical performances, all the museums, I audited classes on Caribbean History and Alexander the Great for fun. I was selected as Marshal of my graduating class, helping me to graduate first in my class."

His advice to students is to find their passion and work towards it.

Updated: July 11, 2019 04:01 PM

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