2017 - 2018 Avicenna Scholars

Mariamou Abdoulaye

Born in the Central African Republic, Mariamou spent five years in a refugee camp with no formal schooling before arriving in the U.S. Despite the many challenges she encountered in her new life in the U.S., Mariamou excelled academically. She was recently selected to join the Rose Festival Court, a group comprised of up to 14 outstanding young women chosen from Portland Metro-area high schools. As part of the Rose Festival Court, Mariamou will receive a scholarship and will participate in a program this summer that offers networking and mentorship opportunities. In addition to her academic achievements, Mariamou volunteers at the local mosque, where she teaches and helps to maintain the facilities. She enjoys modeling, dancing, volunteering, and learning about her culture.

Mariamou Abdoulaye is from Portland, Oregon, and will study nursing at Portland Community College for two years and plans to transfer to Howard University to pursue a medical degree.

Omar Alani

Originally from Malden, Massachusetts, Omar has excelled academically and maintained a strong commitment to volunteering through his work at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). He enjoyed playing soccer for his high school varsity team and being a swim instructor at the YMCA. His love for traveling the world is coupled with his interests in photography.

Omar will attend Brown University in the fall, where he plans to pursue a pre-medicine track and then attend medical school. Omar is considering a major in either biology, biochemistry, or computer science. He looks forward to spending his freshman year engaging in new student activities and exploring his interests, which include playing soccer, coaching young athletes, volunteering in his community, and spending time with his family.

Hoda Harraz

Hoda Harraz lives in Hercules, California. In addition to her academic achievements, Hoda has maintained a part time job and has been deeply engaged in community service. She tutors middle school students who require extra academic help in reading, math, and science during a weekly after-school program. In addition, Hoda led a poetry community group by organizing meetings, writing sessions, and rehearsals in order to prepare her team for poetry competitions.

Hoda will be attending the University of California, Berkeley in the fall where she plans to study architecture. Hoda enjoys art, poetry, and is excited to begin her studies.

2016 - 2017 Avicenna Scholars

Talia Saeid

Talia Saeid was born and raised in Philadelphia and attended the multicultural magnet high school – the Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School. At Masterman High, Talia was deeply interested in science, specifically in physics and studies related to the universe and cosmology. She 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.