Posted by Maha Elsamahi on April 19, 2017 in Blog

The Arab American Institute Foundation (AAIF) is happy to announce the 2017 Helen Abbott Community Service Awards have been awarded to four phenomenal Arab American students: Farah Chammaa, Leah Haidar, Omaima Najib, and Yasmin Albur.

For the past 18 years, AAIF has been awarding 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.


Yasmin_Photo.jpgYasmin Albur is from West Hartford, Connecticut and currently a senior at Hall High School. At Hall, Yasmin was the leader of International Aid Club and earned several awards in regional cultural competitions. She also participated in Multicultural Club, Voices of the Others Club, Medical Club and Human Rights Coalition. Yasmin will be attending the University of Hartford as a college freshmen and plans to pursue a major in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in political science or human rights. She was a member of the Hall High Girls Tennis Junior Varsity team last year and volunteers as a translator for any coming Syrian refugee family in her community this year. Yasmin came from Sudan about two years ago and currently lives with her parents and three siblings.





Farah_Photo.JPGFarah Chammaa is a senior at Crestwood High School in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Varsity Quiz Bowl, Chemistry Olympiad, Varsity Tennis, and Varsity Swim and Dive. She’s the former Parliamentarian and the current Vice President of the National Honor Society, where she has accumulated over 500 hours of community service and earned 17 awards. She has led events including recycling, cemetery cleanups, and rain garden events, as well as organizing food drives, tutoring, and Veterans’ Day dinners. She is also her high school’s Red Cross blood drive coordinator, organizing three successful blood drives that collected over 165 pints of life saving blood. Farah is an active member of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program (GLOBE). She conducted research, alongside her friend, studying aerosols and their effects on the environment; they then presented their research at the GLOBE Midwest Regional Science Fair in Toledo and were awarded first place. She has taken full advantage of the Advanced Placement (AP) courses offered at her high school by taking 12 courses throughout her high school career, including AP Calculus BC, which she fought for to have offered. Farah plans on attending the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in the fall of 2017 to pursue a major in Mathematics and hopefully a career in medicine.  


Leah_photo.jpegLeah Haidar is a senior at South Eugene High School in Eugene, OR, where she participates in the French Immersion Program.  She is a member of National Honor Society, Senior Class Senator and Co-Captain of her high school's Pétanque team.  She volunteers regularly with many community organizations including Girl Scouts and the local food bank.  

Leah is in her 12th year of Girl Scouting and is currently completing her approved Girl Scout Gold Award Project; The Party Project. The project aims to provide low-income and homeless children in the Eugene area with party kits that supply all the means to celebrate their birthdays because no child should be denied their birthday due to financial circumstances.  Leah will be attending Bryn Mawr College in the fall where she hopes to study sociology, international studies, and French.  She plans to continue volunteering throughout her college experience. 





Omaima Najib is graduating senior at North Myrtle Beach High school in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Omaima has been involved in organizations such as the National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Math Honor Society, treasurer of the English Honor Society, president of the Social Studies Honor society, Tree Huggers Club, and Multicultural Club. During her senior year, she decided to step out of her comfort zone and join the Miss North Myrtle Beach Pageant. Omaima came in 2nd place and received the academic award. She has a burning desire to excel to not only make her parents proud, but to also prove to that she can truly do anything.

A motivated student, she will be entering the College of Charleston in the fall having earned 24 college credits from a local college while still in high school. She will graduate salutatorian with a 5.067 grade point average. At the College of Charleston, Omaima will be working toward a degree in biology while aspiring to become a pediatrician. She plans to study pediatrics and then work on an Army base for seven years caring for the children of soldiers.