SAYA Scholarship Recipients: 2016

Labib has participated in a range of activities at SAYA for two years, such as basketball, Young Men’s Leadership and SAYA’s Institute for Public Service offered during the summer. Labib’s college ambition is to pursue the study of mathematics, a subject that has inspired him from a young age. He first learned about profit margins and supply and demand by selling candy fruit snacks. Although Labib is an aspiring businessman, he has a strong social ambition as well: to end sexual violence against women in his community. Labib’s experience at SAYA has underscored for him the value of education in helping eradicate gender inequity and he plans to be a lifelong advocate for this cause.

Samena is an ambassador for SAYA’s Desi Young Women’s Leadership group at the Elmhurst Center where she aids in the facilitation of discussions on issues including ethical consumption, racism and mental health. As a member of her high school’s Red Cross Club, Samena has supervised and arranged several events including a blood drive and walkathon. She is attending St. John’s University where she is continuing to study science, particularly biology. Samena would like to be an activist in her community and raise awareness on issues that are important to her, such as countering Islamophobia and championing the rights of women.

Hira has been an avid participant in SAYA’s Young Women’s Leadership and dance at her high school for three years, as well as at all SAYA-wide events. Hira’s family emigrated from Pakistan, and she finds it important to incorporate aspects of her culture in her American identity. She maintains close connections with her family, especially her grandparents. Hira is most proud of her ability to empathize with those around her. She appreciates that her friends turn to her for advice during challenging situations. Hira is attending CUNY Brooklyn College.

Suyash went to one of NYC’s Specialized High Schools for the Sciences and is now a freshman attending New York University. He is a budding engineer who enjoys woodwork, circuitry and 3D printing. Suyash is driven by an impulse to learn about the origin stories of phenomena, such as the inception of language and evolution of organisms, which he studied in his Latin and Genetics classes. He is looking forward to having the opportunity to explore similar questions in greater depth during college. Suyash enjoys playing soccer and loves the thrill of landing a ball past the goal-keeper and into the net.

Tanvir has participated in SAYA programming at his high school as well as at the Elmhurst Center. He is a recent immigrant from Bangladesh who describes being a teenager in an immigrant family as akin to being a “white cane for a blind person going outdoor[s]”. Tanvir takes on many responsibilities at home while still excelling in school, particularly in STEM subjects, which is something he plans to pursue in college. He believes that in order to be successful in STEM, you must be guided by a calm curiosity and a genuine desire to arrive at the reasoning instead of the results.

Mahdia migrated from Bangladesh and moved to Queens during middle school. She participated in SAYA programming at her high school for two years. Mahdia has been a peer leader in her Young Women’s Leadership group and participates in most SAYA events including the annual Young Women’s Conference and this year’s Career Exploration Day. Mahdia’s career ambition is to become a computer programmer and she is studying for it at CUNY City Tech. Her empathy and compassion are her most defining characteristics. She never fails to ask the question “why” and is not comfortable with accepting inequity as the status quo.

Sukarna has been a participant in SAYA programming since her freshman year of high school. She is pursuing a pre-med track in college. SAYA’s Desi Young Women’s leadership group helped Sukarna build confidence and the ability to hold her own in group settings so that she no longer shies away from expressing her opinions. Sukarna wants to empower women in her community to know their own value and believe in their abilities to pursue careers in fields that where men are generally over-represented, such as information technology and engineering.

Rifat is attending Stony Brook University where he is pursuing a premed degree. Although his career goal is to become a neurosurgeon, he has developed a passion for the humanities, particularly English literature. As an immigrant from Bangladesh, Rifat was anxious about reading novels assigned to him until his teacher assigned Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird. This marked a turning point for him and, since then, he has developed a love for literature and history and no longer shies away from these subjects.