Category: 2013 Recipients

Raheem Hanifa-2013 Recipient

Raheem 150x150Raheem Hanifa

Major: Public Policy
Degree: MPP
School: UC Berkeley
Sponsor; Cal Muslim Alumni Scholarship 


This past year Raheem completed his first year as a Master of Public Policy student at UC-Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. In addition to taking policy courses with leading academics and former high ranking government officials Raheem worked closely with former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) teaching two sections of Robert Reich’s “Wealth & Poverty” course.

This past summer Raheem interned with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the official think-tank of Congress, in Washington DC. In this capacity Raheem attended congressional hearings, assisted analyst at briefings with congressional staffers, and conducted research on substance abuse and mental illness. Prior to studying at UC-Berkeley Raheem worked with the Council on American Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI). During this time he was responsible for CAIR-MI workshops and trainings, the Speaker’s Bureau Emerging Leadership trainings, coalition building and political outreach.

Additionally, Raheem has worked as an assistant director for political and social grassroots campaigns across the country. As a canvass director Raheem ran campaign offices in Nevada, New Hampshire, and Michigan. Raheem graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Michigan State University. Currently, as a Master of Public Policy student, Raheem intends to work to develop national security policy that recognizes the delicate balance of upholding civil rights and liberties while ensuring public safety.

Raheem graduated in 2014 and is an analyst at U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Sahar Momand-2013 Recipient

Sahar Momand 150x150Sahar Momand

Major: Public Policy
Degree: M.A.
School: Carnegie Mellon Heinz School of Public Policy
Sponsor: Muslim Community Association of the Bay Area (MCA) 

Sahar Momand is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Public Policy and Management at the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon. Previous to attending graduate school, Sahar was an AmeriCorps Massachusetts Promise Fellow at Girls Incorporated of Lynn, MA.  She coordinated college access and mentoring programs, serving around 50 girls from the Lynn School District.  Sahar aims to use her Master in Public Policy to be able to continue to work with marginalized groups- including developing and enacting lasting and effective social justice policies.

Sahar was also recently elected to sit on the board of the Muslim Youth Camp, the longest running Muslim camp in the United States. During this summer’s Camp she was the Program Director, coordinated the logistics for the week of classes, community building, and day-to-day operations.

Sahar graduated from Mills College in May, 2011 with a B.A. in International Relations. While in college she participated in the Mills College Model Arab League and Model United National team and was the President of the Mills College Muslim Students’ Association.  Sahar interned at the Muslim Public Affairs Council in the summer of 2008.  She was a delegate of the National American Muslim Young Leaders Summit and she helped to coordinate the L.A. Muslim Public Affairs Young Leaders Summit.  In the summer of 2009, she interned at the Public Forum Institute in Washington, D.C. (Summer 2009), where she helped coordinate Global Entrepreneurship Week.  Sahar also participated in the 2010 Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Junior Summer Institute at Princeton University, which was the stepping stone to pursuing her Master degree in Public Policy.

Sahar graduated in 2015 and is a manager at Playworks Americorps Program.

Tahirou Samaila-2013 Recipient

Tahirou 150x150Tahirou Samaila

Major: Linguistics of the Islamic World
Degree: M.A.
School:New York University
Sponsor: ISF


My name is Tahirou Samaila Sidikou. I am a Master’s in Translations candidate at New York University. I am an alumnus of the Fulbright Scholarship Program and the founder of Corporalingua Translations and, a small freelance translation solo proprietorship.  My language pair in Translations is French-English but I speak five languages, four of which I speak fluently.

I was born in Niger, one of the poorest countries in Africa. As a Muslim child, I quickly learned to be grateful for what I have, while working harder and harder everyday in order to improve the living conditions of my family and my community. Where I grew up, only 5% of the population has a college education. In my large family of 25 members, I am the only one to have a college degree. As of today, most children in Niger have no access to schools, medical care or clean water. All my life, I was saddened by the conditions in which my community, including myself was living. In Niger, higher education is a luxury that belongs to a very lucky few. I am grateful to be among those. Against all odds, with hard work, prayers and perseverance, I was able to graduate from high school, and went to college. Three years into college, I was selected by the U.S embassy in Niger to participate in the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship Program in the United States.

Before coming to the United States as an exchange student, I taught multiple language learning classes in my neighborhood. I taught English, French, and basic Arabic, but also taught reading and writing. My goal was to share what I have learned with children and adults who crave for knowledge but did not have a chance to get primary education. Despite the harsh conditions, I found comfort in learning and sharing. I read every type of literature I can find in a country where only few cities have libraries, and where everyone goes to the same library in the only public university of the nation. But, I refuse to let myself into fall into despair. I kept my hopes and standards high, and worked towards a better life.

My awareness of the importance of education in achieving a lasting change in the life of every community is what kept me going. I became very competitive, both in class and at work in order to highly represent a community in which most have lost hope, in order to grow personally, to be inspired by the few people who have succeeded while being an inspiration for those who are looking for a way out of poverty. My mother and father taught me the values of kindness, generosity and patience with the instruction that if I live by them, I will succeed. I applied those values to my life. I am grateful to God for guiding me, and I pray that he guides me further in achieving my goals.

I like to share what I know, what I value, and defend what I believe in, while keeping a positive image that represents a Muslim. I believe that through our good actions in the community, we can cure the plague of stereotype that is tarnishing the image of Islam and Muslims in America. As a former agency Journalist in a French speaking country, I love politics and political talks. I keep myself informed on current news and trends and always welcome a chance to teach and share, through speeches, presentations and volunteer work.

I have been a freelance Translator since 2009. I am looking for a lifetime career in the Language Industry because it allows me to use all my experience of international languages while providing culturally adequate translations and communication strategies. My ultimate goal is to grow Corporalingua Translations and make of it a place where translators, localizers, and communication strategists will not only make a living but also have careers worthy of their trainings. I want to create jobs for linguists and other bilingual professionals. However, though my mind is set for business, I will continue my education to obtain a Doctorate degree in Translation Research and Instructional Pedagogy available at the University of New York in Binghamton. That will help me fulfill my fundamental mission of teaching and sharing.

Finally, as a linguist, I believe that communication is the key to any type of conflict resolution. Language has been and will always be the most effective medium through which the symbiosis of cultures and people is possible. Linguistic misinterpretations can lead to hurtful prejudices, diplomatic drama and xenophobia, and can damage relationships between people and nations. That is why translators play an important role in the modern globalized world. The Muslim translators by the same token can play an important role in assuring that the message of Islam and the culture of its people are not “lost in translation”.

Tahirou graduated in 2014. He is earning his Ph.D from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Administration and Leadership Studies, Non-Profit and Public Sector. He also works for the United States Department of Defense as a Federal Language Consultant.

Ziad Massarani-2013 Recipient

Zyed 150x150Ziad Massarani

Major: Communication Studies
Degree: M.A.
School: University of Southern California
Sponsor: Foundation for Intelligent Giving (FIG)

Ziad Massarani is an experienced communications and media professional. After a few years of professional development at an international relief organization and graduating with a B.A. in Literary Journalism and Certificate in Middle East Studies from University of California, Irvine, Ziad is now balancing his professional career as a Communications Manager at a Boeing subsidiary with enrollment in a strenuous M.A. Communication Management program at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Ziad is always putting the skills he learns into practice and has dedicated much of his personal time to supporting local organizations, including places of worship, advocacy groups, and non-profit institutions. He looks forward to continuing to grow and benefiting the community at large in the process.

Ammarah Usmani-2013 Recipient

Ammarah 150Ammarah  Usmani

Major: Communication Studies
Degree: B.A.
School: Boston University
Sponsor: ISF


Ammarah Usmani currently studies at Boston University, pursuing a masters degree in communication studies. Before moving to Boston, Ammarah studied at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, her hometown, where she completed her B.A. in communications, with emphasis in print journalism. While at Wichita State, Ammarah worked for the college newspaper for the entirety of her undergraduate career and interned at the local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle. Ammarah also actively participated in the Muslim Student Association on campus, of which she was the sisters’ wing coordinator for 2 years, and led various projects and aided in organizing large-scale events to promote understanding of Islam and Muslims on campus. She also worked on the Islamic Society of Wichita newsletter, a monthly publication that was sent out to the Muslim community in Wichita. She was an active member of the ISW Board of Communications.

Ammarah hopes to become an integral part of the Greater Boston Muslim community as well through her writing and contributions to the field of communications. She aims to complete her education and ideally work for a non-profit organization to serve others and give back to the community.

Amarah graduated and is the  Communications Consultant at ENACT, Boston University.

Wardah Khalid-2013 Recipient

wardah 150Wardah Khalid

Major: International Relations
Degree: M.A.
School: Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs
Sponsor: ISF

Wardah is President and Co-Founder of Poligon Education Fund, a non-profit dedicated to increasing Muslim American engagement with Congress. Also, she writes for a variety of national outlets and work as a Media Associate at a refugee resettlement agency (Church World Service).

Message to Supporters: 
Wardah is grateful for the ISF for allowing her the opportunity to pursue her dreams, Insha’Allah!

Bio: Wardah Khalid is a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where she is pursuing a Masters in International Affairs with a concentration in Human Rights and Middle East studies. Wardah previously earned a BBA and MS in Accounting from Texas A&M University and worked as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Houston before moving to New York to attend SIPA. This summer, Wardah completed two internships with the United Nations, through which she was able to get an inside look at how the organization works and how foreign policies and programs are created and implemented.

Outside of school, Wardah writes a religion blog called “Young American Muslim” for the Huffington Post and Houston Chronicle. She is also very involved with several local and national Muslim organizations including CAIR, MPAC, and ISNA. Wardah hosted a radio show on One Legacy Radio and was featured on Al Jazeera Arabic for her work. Upon graduation, she hopes to continue working for the Muslim community in domestic or foreign policy through a position in the federal government, the UN, or an NGO. Wardah graduated and is a Middle East Policy Analyst and writes for the Huffington Post & Houston Chronicle.

Areas of Interest: 
Refugees, Middle East Policy, Muslim American Issues

Ali Kareem-2013 Recipient

Ali Kareem 150x150Ali Kareem

Major: Film And Television Production
Degree: MFA

School: University of Southern California
Sponsor: UC Irvine Muslim Alumni Scholarship 

Ali Kareem, born in Al Hilla, Babil, left Iraq at age 6 with his family to escape the Saddam Hussein regime. His family lived in Jordan, and then later on moved to Damascus, Syria. His experience living in one of the most diverse centers of the Middle Eastern world was memorable. Living in Syria taught him a number of things such as: learning about different schools of thought within Islam, recognizing the different cultural practices of the Arab world, and gaining an appreciation for its diversity. Ali’s experiences growing up in Iraq, Jordan, and Syria affected his understanding, interpretation  and expression of the world. Eventually, Ali immigrated to the United Sates as a refugee when he was 10 years old, landing in Dallas, Texas.

Ali spent his teen years in Dallas making skateboarding videos and acting in just about every production his high school’s theater department put on, and eventually winning an award for his role in the play, “The Little Foxes”. After graduating, he began making short films. At age 19 he directed a  project titled, “The Time of Ramadan”, featuring Muslim artist Fez Meghani. The six minute video illustrates the struggles of a single-parent Muslim American family and the ways in which faith, especially during Ramadan, impacts their everyday life. Ali was featured on CNN International, where he was interviewed by CNN’s Errol Barnett about the video as well as his experiences as a Muslim living in the west. Soon after the CNN interview, people of all nationalities, faiths, and ages began reaching out to Ali, explaining how they were moved by his work and the positive representation of Muslims they rarely get to see in the media.

Ali went on to study Film & Television Production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. In Spring 2012, Ali wrote, directed, and produced a short film titled “Mehdi”, about a young Iraqi boy whose innocence is lost due to violence. The film is a tale of contemporary war told through the eyes of the children caught in it. “Mehdi” has been recently invited to the Sofia Film Festival in Bulgaria. In spring of 2013 he was selected as as one of only three students to direct an advanced project funded by the USC School of Cinematic Arts. As a result, Ali directed “Matchbox”, a short about a chance meeting between two strangers in a mid-western barn, and the effect their meeting has on the two characters.”Matchbox” premiered in May, 2013 and is currently being submitted to film festivals.

Ali hopes to continue making films that highlight the shared humanity between different people, whether they are Iraqi children caught in war, Muslims in America, or two strangers in a barn in the Midwest.

Ali graduated and is making films. in 2015, he won the ISF National Film Grant for $20,000.

Ganna Al-Mansoub-2013 Recipient

Ganna 150x150Ganna Al-Mansoub

Major: Near Eastern Languages
Degree: MA
School: Wayne State University
Sponsor: ISF

Ever since I can remember, school has always been important to me and excelling in my classes was always top priority. I am a first generation college student, thus it was difficult to convince my father to allow my sisters and I to pursue higher education, but subhanAllah somehow we ended up going to college, and have been very successful since. My passion lies in the field of Islamic history and the Arabic language; although it took my two years to figure this out, I feel confident that this is what I want to devout my career teaching and studing about. Alhamdulilah, in May 2013, I graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Near Eastern Studies and a minor in Arabic. Currently, I am a Masters student studying Near Eastern Languages at Wayne State University (concentration is Arabic). InshaAllah, once I obtain my Masters, I plan to pursue my PhD in Islamic Studies, inshaAllah, as my ultimate career goal is to be a college professor/work in academia

Ganna graduated in 2015 and is currently working for Michigan Institute of Urology.

Nada Hashmi-2013 Recipient

Nada Hashmi 150x150Nada Hashmi

Major: Non-Profit Management
Degree: PhD
School: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsor: Syed Ibrahim Memorial Fund for the Greater Boston Region

Nada graduated from Washington College, Maryland with
a Bachelor of Arts (Magna Cum Laude) degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts (Magna Cum Laude) degree
in mathematics. She obtained her Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Maryland and Systems Design and Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In September 2008 she began working toward her PhD in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship at the Sloan School of Business at MIT.

Her future goals include developing models in which non-profits help spur other non-profits and maintain cooperative ties. Nada is passionate about using education to empower individuals to help themselves and the society around them.  In her spare time, she enjoys sailing and cooking.

Nada graduated in 2012.

Faroukh Amin Virani-2013 Recipient

Faroukh Virani 150x150Faroukh Amin Virani

Major: Film and Television Production
Degree: MFA
School: UCLA
Scholarship: Islamic Shura Council of Southern California  

Faroukh Virani is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Film Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2004, Faroukh has worked in post-production for ESPN Reality, PBS, and most recently HBO Documentaries. He has served as an assistant editor and editor for feature documentaries and original reality programming. Additionally, the documentary short he edited, “Canto de Familia,” was recently recognized by KCET as part of its Fine Cut showcase of student films.

Growing up, Faroukh’s parents operated an Indian video rental store and the style of Bollywood cinema greatly influences his work. He aims to bridge the cinematic tendencies of the east with the west to create unique stories featuring minority and under-represented characters. Faroukh recently began his graduate thesis project ‘VIMANA,’ a science-fiction film revolving around the journey of a Muslim astronaut.

Faroukh Virani is a Los Angeles based director and editor who has completed studies in Film Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (MFA) and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (BFA). Growing up, his parents operated an Indian video rental store and the style of Bollywood cinema influences his sensibility and work; he is interested in bringing Asian American stories to diverse genres.

Faroukh’s USC graduate thesis short “VIMANA” has played in multiple international festivals and recently won awards ‘Best Drama’ at USC’s First Film showcase and was one of 25 films featured in PBS’s 2015 Online Film Festival. He is also involved in post-production as an Assistant Editor on CW’s “iZombie”.