Posted by Tess Waggoner on June 06, 2019 in Blog
The Arab American Institute Foundation (AAIF) is happy to announce the 2019 Helen Abbott Community Service Awards have been awarded to four remarkable Arab American students: Shahab Abdullah, Ahmad Abu-Elhaija, Kathleen 'Kate' Joseph, and Sara al-Zubi.
For tow decades, 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.
2019 High School Student Awardees:
Shahab Abdullah is a senior at Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, Michigan. He is the founder and President of the Student Lunch tutoring program, having organized hundreds of tutoring sessions for students in need, and eventually selected as an AXA Achievement Scholar for his dedication to the cause. Shahab’s role as the President of the Social Justice Club extends towards students in need of a voice in the school. As a prominent member of his community, Shahab was recently featured in The New York Times Upfront Magazine, representing Arab American students from around the country. He is also a proud member of the National Honor Society, the Big House Program at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, the Yemeni Student Association, a founding member of his school’s Key Club, and the Vice President of Student Council. He was ranked in the top 1% of his graduating class and completed over 400 documented community service hours over the course of his high school career. Shahab tells AAI he is a strong supporter of free speech, pacifism, and leading by example, and aspires to establish an education fund for underprivileged immigrants and first-generation students, particularly those from war torn countries such as Yemen, Palestine and Syria. He plans to attend the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor in the fall to major in Molecular Biology and is intent on becoming a future physician and state representative.
Ahmad Abu-Elhaija is a second-year pre-medical student at UCLA majoring in psychobiology. While at UCLA, Ahmad has founded a 501 (c)3 non-profit social enterprise, International Collegiate Health Initiative (ICHI) with the mission to improve the overall health of the communities it serves by providing high quality medical, nutritional, and social services. He is an alumni of the Pre-Medical Enrichment Program at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and works a preceptorship in the Emergency Department of Ronald Reagan Hospital. He currently serves as CEO of ICHI and was named a 2019 Strauss Scholar. Ahmad is a proud Arab American who has volunteered with Access California Services since the age of 12, mentoring immigrant and refugee children. Ahmad has worked as a United Nations World Refugee Day committee volunteer through the Refugee Forum of Orange County. His current project is to complete the set-up of ICHI’s medical clinic in the cities of Maywood and Bell in the Los Angeles area this fall, and launch its first for-profit business venture under the social enterprise. Ahmad is a strong advocate in helping underserved populations and his passion to serve humanity is evident throughout his daily goals.