FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 9, 2015
Contact: Stephen McGrath, +1-202-387-9500 Peace Education Prize, El-Hibri Foundation email@example.com
2015 Peace Education Scholarship Winners
The El-Hibri Foundation is pleased to award scholarships in peace education to the following three exemplary scholars:
Saadia Ahmad (University of Massachusetts, Boston, Master’s program in Conflict Resolution)
Saadia is a passionate advocate for interfaith dialogue, religious diversity, and nonviolence, and has already accomplished a great deal in the field for such a young scholar, demonstrating conviction and determination. These passions are based in her belief that religious diversity can work as a unifying force rather than a dividing one.
Personal Statement: Saadia overcame personal adversity into a professional calling to create safe spaces on her campus. With the help of numerous professionals and staff at Providence College, Saadia eventually became dedicated to helping others and promoting interfaith dialogue and diversity. She says, "My experience as a Muslim at a Roman Catholic college has transformed my entire being and shifted the direction of my life. By immersing myself into another religion, I realized a new depth in my Islamic faith that was previously inaccessible to me when I was limited to just my own.
Professional background: Saadia works as a Muslim Faith Advisor at Kids4Peace, an interfaith peacebuilding camp which brings together middle-school aged Jewish, Christian, and Muslim students from Jerusalem and America. She also served as an Episcopal Service corps member at Dickinson College’s Office of Religious Life, helping organize programs for students, faculty, and staff from diverse religious backgrounds and practices. Saadia has written extensively on Islam in the West, religious diversity, and interfaith dialogue, and her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, the Episcopal Service Corps, and America: The National Catholic Review. She was also founder of Providence College’s first Interreligious Dialogue Student Group, which brought together administrators, students, and members of the community concerned about religious diversity and prejudice.
Future goals: Saadia’s ultimate goal is to expand on her already extensive work on interfaith and religious conflict resolution, and believes the Conflict Resolution program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston will provide her with the knowledge and skills to become an even more effective advocate for interfaith diversity and nonviolence.
Jessica Bissett (Georgetown University, Master’s program in Conflict Resolution)
Personal Statement: Jessica is an impressive Presidential Scholar who received her BA at the University of New Hampshire with a 3.9 GPA in the Humanities with a concentration in social justice and political theory, and who has demonstrated a profound passion for restorative justice. Through her studies of restorative justice initiatives around the world, she found that in many justice initiatives “victims and offenders are often seen as rights-bearing entities rather than human beings in a society dependent on relationships.”
Professional background: Jessica headed a restorative justice campaign for high schools in Manchester, NH, through the Granite State Organizing Project. Jessica also worked as the secretary for the Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee, which assists juvenile justice officers. She was also active in the Economic Justice Subcommittee, advocating for raising the minimum wage and to outlaw predatory lending in New Hampshire.
Future goals: Jessica intends to expand her work in the field of restorative justice with an NGO or in a government position, and eventually continue her studies at the PhD level. Her vision is “to blend hands-on work, scholarship and teaching to help resolve conflict and train students to enter this field.” With an interest in post-conflict societies where restorative justice has proven effective, she believes that there is much left to learn and hopes to find ways to apply such lessons to situations that are in need of reevaluation and reform of their approach to restorative justice. Jessica is very excited to be starting graduate school at Georgetown this fall, calling the Conflict Resolution Program at Georgetown “a perfect match” for her ambitions.
Dmitriy Synkov (George Washington University, Master’s program in International Affairs)
Personal Statement: Dmitriy is currently pursuing his MA in International Affairs from the Elliot School at George Washington University. His degree focuses on conflict analysis and prevention, which will assist him with his long-term career goal of researching and analyzing conflict and atrocity prevention. As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dmitriy studied the relationship between colonial systems and the potential for conflict in former colonies in the years following their independence. Through this research, he uncovered a gap in how popular discourse portrayed current conflicts and de-contextualized causes of conflict in national historical accounts.
Professional background: After graduating in May 2014, Dmitriy worked with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, where he became interested in early warning conflict analysis programs. His primary duty was providing editorial assistance for AfP’s flagship publication Building Peace Forum, a semi-annual journal on peacebuilding and conflict resolution. He and his team successfully organized the publication of two articles in the Guardian’s Global Development Professional Network, which then led to further publication. Dmitriy also designed a terminology page and promotional graphics for use in social media. The latter of these helped to increase Alliance for Peacebuilding’s social networking presence, which enhanced their ability to reach new partners.
Future goals: Dmitriy currently works in the program management department at Pact. His work exposes him to donor-driven peacebuilding programs, and allows him to study how these programs are implemented from start to completion. Though this experience, he is gaining a more comprehensive view of how an idea, concept, or proposal becomes actualized into a program. This experience, coupled with his MA from GW, will allow Dmitriy to better address the potential ways through which future atrocities may be averted.