What makes you a Difference Maker?
I have decided to dedicate my career to advancing justice and equality. I am passionate about human rights issues and hope to use my position as a scholar to advance research about religious discrimination and Islamophobia. I realized I wanted to help others as I attended high school in Lebanon. I volunteered with Amel Association, which allowed me to work with Syrian refugees in the West Bekaa. Moreover, I interned with the United Nations Development Program and the Lebanese Ministry of Finance and worked on projects related to the country’s refugee crisis. When I moved back to Dearborn, I wanted to maintain my dedication to helping others, so I joined the executive board of UNICEF at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and became president. Our student organization is dedicated to helping children and families in need. I organized fundraisers, awareness campaigns, and volunteer opportunities to serve children locally and abroad. I also volunteer with the Islamic Center of America when they hold their drive-in food drives to distribute food to local residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, I am a research assistant for three projects at UM-Dearborn that advance gender inequality, increase understanding of the local Muslim and Arab American community, and highlight generational experiences during the pandemic. It is my goal to make a difference and have a lasting impact on my community. I received the Chancellor's Medallion upon graduating in the Winter 2021 semester and was recognized as a James B. Angell scholar in 2019 and 2020. I also earned University Honors for four terms throughout 2018 and 2019, and was on the Dean's List for eight semesters. In 2018, I was one of two Honors Program freshman to be awarded the Honors Program Stipend for my academic performance. I also became secretary of UNICEF on campus during that year, and eventually became the organization's president. Based on my performance in class, two of my professors offered me positions as their research assistant, and I worked on three research projects. Through these projects, I conducted research on sexual harassment on campus, the transition to adulthood during the pandemic, and the local Muslim community's experiences in the context of the pandemic and Islamophobic discourse. Throughout my time as an undergraduate, I also served as a mentor for Honors Program freshman and was a member of the Honors Program Executive Committee.
Tell us about your leadership experience.
My first encounter with being a leader occurred when I participated at the Lebanese American University’s Model United Nations. I represented Tajikistan in UN Women for one year, and Ukraine in the International Maritime Organization for another. The issues we tackled, such as women’s rights and environmental health sparked my interest in human rights and equality. At UM-Dearborn, I led Honors Program freshman during their first year as a mentor and organized cultural events for professors and students as one of four students in the Honors Program Executive Committee. Moreover, I was vice president and president of UNICEF UM-Dearborn.
What is your dream career or goal?
My long-term life goal is to become a scholar and activist with a focus on Southwest Asia and North Africa. In fall 2021, I will be enrolled in the Masters Program in International and Regional Studies at the University of Michigan with an Islamic Studies specialization. There, I hope to expand on research about Islamophobia by examining anti-Shia sentiment in Lebanon and among the Lebanese diasporas. I would like to pursue a career in academia, and I intend to use my education to address religious and ethnic discrimination in the SWANA region, as well as examine the impact of Western intervention.
What is your most defining moment?
My most defining moment at the University of Michigan-Dearborn was receiving the Chancellor’s Medallion during graduation. It was not the award itself that I found so significant, but the support I received from members of the UM-Dearborn community that led up to that moment. Many professors supported my nomination and reached out to me even a few years after taking their classes to congratulate me. Moreover, several students contacted me to let me know they were proud that a member of the Arab American community and a visibly Muslim woman received the award. I am grateful to have received the Chancellor’s Medallion and to have been given the opportunity to represent my community.