Talia Saeid, one of Andala’s 2016 Avicenna Scholars, does not get home from school until at least 6:30 pm every day. When you spend as much time as Talia does at school and when you do not mind an hour commute to get there, you know you are destined for great things. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Talia is thankful for the diverse community surrounding her, both at her mosque and at her multicultural magnet high school – the Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School.

    Now a senior at Masterman High, Talia is deeply interested in science, specifically in physics and studies related to the universe and cosmology. As early as middle school, Talia remembers watching science documentaries about the universe and recalls the multitude of related issues she wanted to explore. She did just that when she recently researched and taught a class about nuclear fusion to her classmates – an example of her deep-rooted commitment to cutting edge science. It is no surprise that Talia is considering studying either engineering or astrophysics in college, with a minor in anthropology or philosophy. “I see this as a way to tie science together with my interest in the humanities,” said Talia.

    Talia’s involvement does not stop inside the classroom. As a member of Masterman High’s varsity basketball, varsity soccer, and track and field teams, Talia constantly challenges herself both mentally and physically. In addition, she co-founded an Islam Awareness Club at her school, which focuses on raising political awareness regarding timely issues facing the Muslim American community. Talia is a strong believer in having a support system and has always looked to her older siblings, and now to the Andala Initiative board members, as a source of mentorship. “Almost every time I think of a school I want to apply to or a research topic I am interested in, Andala has a related connection or expertise in that area. The mentorship I have through Andala is very strong because the members have been through the exact stage I am in now.” said Talia. “I look forward to one day becoming a mentor myself for future Avicenna Scholars.” Future leaders like Talia and this dynamic of an ongoing ‘pay it forward’ mentorship model is exactly the support system that Andala wants to maintain. We are very honored to have Talia be among the first Avicenna Scholarship recipients.