2019 - JALIL MUHAMMAD
Jalil Muhammad, a native of Rahway, New Jersey, was born into a closely-knit family that inculcated in him from an early age the importance of servicing society’s weakest and most dispossessed. Known throughout his community for his leadership skills and involvement in social programs, Jalil has distinguished himself as a transformational educator, paradigm shifting school leader, and motivational community activist.
During his matriculation at Howard University, Jalil led the campaign to reestablish a series of important student groups, assisted in the organization of several national student conferences and developed a cadre of student leaders and activist.
Jalil obtained his undergraduate degree in History from Howard University in 2011 and his graduate degree in Teaching Social Studies from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.
Over the last seven years, Jalil has expanded his knowledge of history, politics and culture by travelling the world and teaching social studies in one of the largest public-school districts in the country. During his tenure as a public high school teacher, Jalil distinguished himself as a passionate and results-driven educator. Under his guidance, Advanced Placement standardized test scores increased six-fold, consistently ranking his student among the highest achieving in the district.
Jalil has been featured in dozens of periodicals including The Hilltop, The Chicago Defender, The Star Ledger and The Amsterdam News. His commitment to academic excellence and service to those most in need has made him the recipient of several awards near and dear to his heart, including the Woodrow Wilson – Rockefeller Brothers Fellowship, the Charles and Williston H. Lofton Scholarship Fund, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Community Service Award.
Jalil is currently a first-year law student at Columbia Law School. Upon graduation, he plans on pursuing a career in Civil Rights litigation and politics.
2018 - SHABHIA AKTER
Shabhia is a third-year student at Fordham University School of Law. She was born in Bangladesh and raised in Queens, NY. Shabhia was the first in her family to graduate from college and pursue a law degree. She received a full-tuition scholarship from the Posse Foundation to attend Lafayette College and earned her B.A. in English and Psychology.
Shabhia has received numerous student leadership awards for her role in enhancing Lafayette College’s commitment to racial and socioeconomic justice. In college, Shabhia worked as a Writing Associate for the College Writing Program and volunteered at various organizations with the Landis Community Outreach Center.
In 2015 Shabhia was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Sri Lanka. The Fulbright program, founded in 1946, is a flagship international educational program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries. As a Fulbright Scholar, Shabhia spent a significant amount of time working at Chundikuli Girls’ College in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. In 2016, Congressman Crowley from the 14th Congressional District of New York, recognized Shabhia for her work as a Fulbright Scholar.
At Fordham Law, Shabhia is an Associate Editor of Fordham’s International Law Journal. She is vice president of the Muslim Law Students Association and a research assistant to Professor Tanya Hernandez. Shabhia is also a recipient of the New York City Bar Diversity Fellowship – a program which provides law students with the rare and valuable opportunity of jumpstarting their careers by placing them in law firm or corporate legal departments.
Shabhia has worked at the New York Immigration Court and is currently working for the City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Justice Project (IJP) assisting asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries.
2017 - Sidra Mahfooz
Sidra is currently pursuing her J.D. at NYU School of Law. She is interested in international law, business, and public policy. She received her bachelors, summa cum laude, in political science and psychology from Stony Brook University, where she was the president of the mock trial team and the pre-law society. She completed her honors thesis analyzing the proper legal framework in the context of targeted drone strikes. Before law school, she received a national scholarship to study Arabic for a year in Amman, Jordan. During this time, she also interned at an NGO advocating for the rights of migrant workers and volunteered at nearby refugee camps.
During law school, she continues to advocate for the rights of distressed communities. Sidra worked as a research assistant focusing on international human rights for Professor Satterthwaite, and as a clinic student in the National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. She is an active member of the International Refugee Assistance Program, where she has assisted clients resettle to the U.S., and a courtroom advocate for Sanctuary for Families, through which she provides legal assistance to victims of domestic abuse. As Co-chair of the NYU MLSA, she has also worked with several groups to organize events aimed at community-building and social/legal advocacy. Sidra is really grateful to ISF for their support and honored to be a part of the ISF family.
2016 - NORAN ELZARKA
Noran is a second-year student at The City University of New York School of Law. She is interested in criminal defense, immigration defense, and working with CUNY’s CLEAR Project to counter post-9/11 policies and practices that have particularly affected Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and other communities in NYC. She is active in the International Refugee Assistance Project at CUNY Law and the National Lawyers Guild’s Parole Preparation Project, collaborating with and advocating for people eligible for parole who are serving indeterminate sentences in NY State prisons. She also serves as a dean for the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, where she helps build spaces of sisterhood and social justice for young women of color.
In 2015, she received her B.A. In Political Science and Women’s studies from Drew University, where she proudly served as the co-founder and president of its Students for Justice in Palestine chapter. Her honors thesis examined the intersections between the prison-industrial complex and the military-industrial complex and the ways in which two racialized wars, the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror”, exacerbate one another and the implications of militarization for Black, Brown, and Muslim communities.
Noran currently interns at Brooklyn Defender Services, working with non-citizens in removal proceedings who are at risk of deportation.
Below, Noran shares her thoughts about winning the scholarship:
Receiving a scholarship from MuBANY has been extremely rewarding as a law student. I have received not only financial support but a community that I am looking to personally and professionally grow alongside and I am so grateful for that. I have been able to connect with law students and attorneys across New York City and learn from their experiences and their work. MuBANY has been instrumental in my development as a hopeful attorney and has helped me feel a sense of community.