Posted by Yasmin Hussein on April 21, 2016 in Blog

The Arab American Institute Foundation (AAIF) is happy to announce the 2016 Helen Abbott Community Service Awards have been awarded to four phenomenal Arab American students; Catherine Kilada, Omar Mansour, Tamara Matar and Nour Sulaiman.

For the past 17 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.

This year’s recipients are:

Catherine.pngCatherine Kilada is a Senior at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, New York. She has been on the principal’s list/honors list for all four years of high school. She is a member of St. Abraam’s Coptic Orthodox Church Choir and a guitarist in the church’s worship band. She volunteers at St. Joseph’s Hospital and visits the Rehabilitation Center in the Bronx where she interacts with patients, leading them in song, and prayer. She is co-president of Our Lady of Mercy Academy’s Mercy Action Service Club in which she volunteers at the Mary Brennan INN where she works in the soup kitchen.  She is a member of her church’s youth group and is a retreat leader at her school where she creates retreats for underclassmen. 

Catherine is a member of National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and Tri-M National Honor Society for music. Within these honor societies she tutors students and helps fundraise. She is president of Foreign Language Club and teaches Sunday School to third graders. She hopes to pursue a medical career and will be attending Geneseo in the Fall, where she will major in Biology.


Nour.pngNour E. Sulaiman is a fourth year student of Politics at the University of Virginia. She will be attending Northeastern Law School in the fall as a Public Interest Law Scholar (PILS). During the summer, she will be working to combat Arab-American discrimination with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in Michigan. In the past, Nour has helped asylees and refugees in immigration matters at the International Rescue Committee. She has done research at UVA in Islamic Jurisprudence from a feminist perspective. Currently, she is volunteering for the Bernie Sanders campaign. She is committed to the issues of Arab-Americans, immigrants, women’s issues, civil rights, and international human rights.




Omar.pngOmar Mansour will graduate from Mentor High School in Ohio. He plans to major in a STEM-related field . Following his undergraduate studies, Omar’s ultimate goal is to attend graduate school, receive a doctorate degree, and begin a career as a nanotechnology researcher in academia. 

Omar actively challenges himself both in and out of the classroom. He maintains a 4.38 GPA, and is involved in multiple extracurricular and athletic activities including Math League, Programming Club, Science Olympiad, Speech and Debate, and Cross Country.

During his free time, Omar loves to volunteer. He is president of the Future Leaders, a community service club at his school and is an active member of the National Honor Society. Omar is passionate about contributing to the local community, and he plans to continue to volunteer during his college years and beyond.


Tamara.pngTamara Matar hails from Hemet, California where she is a senior at Hemet high school. She is ranked 10th in her class. She has maintained a 4.8 GPA while participating in two sports, symphonic band, mock trial, and volunteering at her local hospital. Tamara plans to attend a university in southern California and major in integrative biology. Later she’d like to study medicine and become a doctor where she hopes to give back to others by traveling to the Middle East and helping refugees.