Ayman Hamdeh Scholarship Recipients
Abire Sabbagh 2023
Abire Sabbagh is currently pursuing her PhD in Higher Education at Rutgers University. She also serves as the Palestine Education Director at the Palestinian American Community Center, NJ and is a member of the Palestinian Feminist Collective. Abire practices her scholar-activism by being grounded in community spaces/centers and is inspired by her work with students and youth. She does this with the goal of expanding networks of social and political consciousness as we pave the way for collective and holistic liberation- and a free Palestine.
Woorod Atiyat 2023
Woorod Atiyat is a second-year law student at Pace University School of Law, hoping to pursue immigration defense work. Woorod’s deep passion for immigration law stems from her work with the New Jersey Chapter of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) where she witnessed first-hand the unconcealed manifestations of discrimination that systematically exists and is very prevalent within Muslim communities. As an Arab-American woman from an immigrant household, she has been immersed in the experiences and hardships of immigrants at a young age. Not only understanding but experiencing the systemic injustice has fueled her interest in the legal field to better represent her community. Aside from law school, wanting to be better advocate for the Muslim Ummah, Woorod joined PACC’s Civic Engagement Team, where she communicates with Arab and/or Muslim NJ residents to gather information relevant to social justice issues so that PACC can better advocate for the communities’ needs and ensure that not only are those concerns brought to the attention of elected officials, but ultimately met. Woorod hopes to be a part of bringing the Muslim Ummah closer together and strengthening her community.
Khadija Salim 2023
Khadija Salim is a second-year counseling psychology PhD student and licensed mental health therapist, specializing in trauma. She has dedicated years to creating mental health healing and processing spaces for Palestinian populations, as well as solidarity spaces for communities facing race-based trauma. She is passionate about decolonial healing and challenging Western mental health frameworks. Her current research centers on coping mechanisms utilized by post-incarcerated Palestinian political prisoners during their time of incarceration. She is particularly interested in the construct of psychological refusal, and the embodied spirit of sumud. In alignment with the dreams of her family, community, and ancestors, Khadija draws on radical love and collective reimagination to move us closer towards liberation.
Tala Ismail 2022
Tala Ismail is a second-year law student at Rutgers Law School - Newark. Prior to pursuing a law degree, Tala worked at the PACC as a H.O.P.E. Junior teacher and, later, as the Civic Engagement Coordinator. Born and raised in Bloomfield, NJ, Tala has spent years trying to give back to the communities that did so much for her, whether it was through volunteering as a township EMT or raising money for mutual aid groups. Tala is inspired daily by the strength of the Palestinian community, both in the U.S. and abroad; her biggest motivators, however, are her parents. Born stateless Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Tala’s parents worked hard to build a beautiful life for their three children and are a perfect example of Palestinian resilience. When she’s not studying or reading books about Palestine, Tala enjoys playing guitar, hiking through New Jersey, napping excessively, binging Gilmore Girls, and spending time with her very large and very loud family.
Heather Atshan 2022
Heather Atshan of Fairfield is a mother of one child, and with ambition and optimism, she insisted on following her dreams in continuing her higher education. She has a current 3.78 GPA and will be graduating this May of 2022 with a master’s degree in Social Work. Heather had the opportunity to work on a wonderful project which was run by both the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Palestine in crisis intervention for the vulnerable populations (Women and children). Heather lived most of her life in Palestine and deeply understand the pain, obstacles, and challenges that Palestinians experience with living under the military occupation. Her strong beliefs in simplicity, social justice, non-violence, and fundamental equality of all human beings had led her choose Social Work as her future career.
Suleiman Gaghamin 2022
Suleiman Gaghamin has roots from Deir Yasin, Palestine and grew up immersed in the culture and history of the country and the lived experiences of the Palestinian people first hand. He is passionate about preserving that history and that culture and has shared both in his local community unapologetically. Suleiman has led in volunteer work for Palestine, represented culturally appropriated traditions like the debke reclaiming them as Palestinian, and worked to educate others in his school sphere and social circles informally. Suleiman is always proud to represent Palestine, and vows to work tirelessly to advocate and be socially active for Palestine until Palestine is free and Palestinians have the right to return.
Nadine Badwan 2022
My name is Nadine Badwan. I am originally from Beit Sureek, Palestine. I am 19 years old and am a sophomore at Montclair State. I am a Family Science and Human Development major with a concentration in School Settings with aspirations of pursuing a career in education. I currently work as a substitute teacher at Al-Ghazaly Jr./Sr. High School and as a summer and weekend school teacher at the Islamic Center of Passaic County. I am honored to be a part of the volunteer team at the Palestinian American Community Center and to have connections with people of similar backgrounds coming together for the same cause. Free Palestine!
Reem Qasem 2020
Reem Qasem is a Palestinian American, born and raised in New Jersey. She is currently obtaining her MBA at William Paterson University, with a concentration in Accounting, and is expected to graduate in May of 2020. She started working at the Palestinian American Community Center in 2017 as an Americorps Vista and is currently the Office Manager. She values spending time with her loved ones and traveling in her free time.
Helwa Aburas 2019
Helwa Aburas is originally from Turmos Aya, Palestine. She joined PACC when she became a committee member of The Homeland Project as well as being the girls dabka instructor for a year and a half. This scholarship went towards completing her higher education. In which she graduated with my B.S. in Supply Chain Management from Rutgers University with High Honors in May 2019.
Nisreen H. Rajab 2019
Nisreen Rajab was born and raised in Palestine, she did her undergraduate degree at The Islamic University of Gaza, and received her Bachelor of English Language Education with Honors in 2012. After college she worked as an English teacher for elementary students at United Nations refugees school (UNRWA) in Gaza. In 2013 she was granted the Fulbright (Foreign Language Teaching Assistant) FLTA scholarship, where she moved to the USA and worked at William Paterson University, NJ as an Arabic Language Professor Assistant. She received her Master of Education in Bilingual & ESL in 2019 from William Paterson University. Nisreen Has always been involved in the Palestinian and Arabic Community in New York and North New Jersey. Between 2017 and 2019, she worked as an ESL teacher for adult refugee students at Smile for Charities, NJ. She has been the English conversation instructor at the Palestinian American Community Center Since 2018. She currently works as an ESL Teacher at Wayne Township Public Schools District NJ.
Dania Niwash 2018
Dania Niwash is an active member of the community and has been awarded the Ayman Hamdeh Scholarship for 2017 for her involvement in the Arab American community. She is a student in the Physician Assistant program at Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences. She is in her clinical phase and looks forward to graduating in May 2019. She is currently collaborating with the National Arab American Medical Association to establish a NJ chapter for the young medical professionals in NJ. Dania has tutored sciences and math at the PACC center. She is present at many of the PACC events and has recently joined the event committee. She is also a former member of the ICPC Girls youth committee in which she served for 3 years.
Halla Yousef 2017
Hala Yousef is currently enrolled at Passaic County Community College in one of the top well known Nursing Program known in New Jersey, with intentions of pursuing a Masters Degree in nursing allowing her for more opportunities. Halla involvement with the Palestinian American Community Center began with tutoring students in all subjects, slowly working towards being a bigger part of PACC. Being born and raised in New Jersey helped Halla keep close connection with the Palestinian Community around her and lose touch with her Palestinian roots.
Diane Issa 2017
Diane Issa is the first face you’ll see walking into the Palestinian American Community Center and the last face you’ll see walking out. She is the epitome of a devoted community member in the Arab community and is outstandingly motivated when working in the cause of her very own Palestinian community in northern New Jersey. Her history and hard work earned her an offer as the administrative assistant at the PACC. She served as SJP president and was a prime member of the Student Government Association allocations board. Currently a William Paterson University alumni with a BA in Sociology, Diane is en route to continuing her education with a masters in Counseling to continue to make helping people a life goal.