Posted by Joan Hanna on April 24, 2015 in Blog

The Arab American Institute Foundation (AAIF) is delighted to announce that the 2015 Helen Abbott Community Service Awards have been awarded to Farah Aboufakhr, Dalia El-Desoky and Sherin Nassar. 

For the past 16 years, AAIF awards exceptional Arab American students for their leadership and dedication to community service. Helen Abbott is remembered for her lifelong commitment to improving the lives of those around her, including building 22 homes for disadvantaged families in her Fort Pierce, Florida area. She was an unwavering supporter of the Arab American Institute Foundation, and made a donation that was later converted into a youth scholarship in her name.

This year’s recipients are:

Farah Aboufakhr is a graduating senior at Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Michigan. A high academic achiever, she will be entering Michigan State University in the fall having already earned 45 college credits from Henry Ford College. She will graduate valedictorian with a 4.35 grade point average. At Michigan State, Farah will be working towards a degree in biomedical engineering and aims to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. 

Farah likes to challenge herself not only academically, but personally and professionally as well. While maintaining her studies, Farah was an active member in many organizations while in high school including the National Honor Society, the Business Professionals of America, DECA Business Club, Key Club, Discover Islam, and Arabic Club. Farah is particularly proud of founding the Cancer Awareness Club during her junior year. The Cancer Awareness Club is an organization that brings attention to the issues that cancer causes and raises awareness of its effects on survivors, affected family members, as well as the greater community. She has also volunteered her time as a tutor to her peers after school.

Farah is working towards her lifelong dream of becoming a physician, challenging herself everyday with the rigorous and demanding disciplines of medicine. She became interested in medicine while she was volunteering at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn. Farah observed that a career in medicine is a uniquely different challenge on a daily basis – no two patients are the same. Farah is excited to take on that challenge.

Dalia El-Desoky was born in Cairo, raised in Houston, Texas, and educated in Muscat, Oman. This unique diversity is one aspect of Dalia’s upbringing that she cherishes greatly. Through her time travelling and living in three different countries, Dalia has cultivated a passion for helping people across the world. She will be heading to Xavier University of Louisiana this fall to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

At Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie, Louisiana, Dalia served as the Brown Foundation Committee Head, using funds to improve the lives of cancer patients through Hope Lodge. Dalia was also a member of her school’s Chipmunks in Action (CIA) organization with which she organized events for cancer patients that included preparing gourmet meals and hosting live theater and music events. Dalia volunteered with the Youth Rebuilding New Orleans program to rebuild disaster stricken homes, and organized a drive to collect school supplies for disadvantaged Louisiana neighborhoods. Dalia takes great pleasure in assisting those in need of service.

Dalia strongly believes in the power of education. In addition to her volunteer work, she has served as Historian for Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society throughout high school. She also is a committed tutor, and offers help to her peers in chemistry and pre-calculus through a weekly volunteer program. Dalia has been a member of the National Honor Society for over three years.

Dalia aspires to use the skills she learns in pharmacy school to build connections between communities on the outskirts of New Orleans to the cities of rural Egypt. As an upcoming college freshman, she is excited to embark on an academic and professional career that will help her have an impact that echoes through communities worldwide. 

Sherin Nassar is a rising junior at George Washington University, double majoring in International Affairs and Economics. She is originally from Cherry Hill, New Jersey where she devoted her time to her high school newspaper and community service opportunities. She currently serves as an Elliott School Senator for GWU's Student Association, and sits on the finance committee where she is involved with expanding handicap accessibility and awareness on campus. She is an active member of the GWU Mock Trial team, where she is mastering her public speaking skills.

Sherin has an extensive history of volunteer work and community service. During high school she volunteered at her local hospital and was a leader of her high school's Habitat for Humanity. She travelled to Birmingham, Alabama during spring break of her senior year to build homes with her school’s chapter. In college, she has continued her service through GWU's Freshman Day of Service initiative, where she volunteers as a site leader. This past year, she joined GWU's Alternative Breaks program and travelled to Nicaragua during her winter break to build schools and work with Nicaraguan children through student-led programming.

Sherin is passionate about meeting people from different cultures through service-oriented travel and volunteer work in her local community. She strives to become a non profit professional, and wants to travel the world to lead discussions about how to help each other through service, and to bring a new face to the Arab and Muslim American dialogue.

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