Matthew Kassi is a political science student at The Illustrious Howard University. He is the son of two Ivorian immigrants and a member of the ever-diverse Jersey City community. His unique perspective taught him to respect innate cultural differences and champion inclusivity and diversity in all facets. Matthew has volunteered in urban schools to empower the next generation to overcome their discouraging circumstances. He is involved on campus as a Treasurer of Howard’s New Jersey Club and a member of the African Student Association. As a reporter and videographer for Howard’s Spotlight Network TV, he was able to highlight on-campus housing inequity and showcase the competitiveness of Division I athletics. Matthew believes that public service is pivotal to eliminating the gross discrimination and inequity in immigrant, minority, and impoverished communities. He hopes to create substantive change that positively shapes his community.
Ayaz Naeem was born in a crowded city of Lahore, Pakistan. Raised by parents who never let wealth in between his education, taught him the power and privilege of knowledge. At age 11, Ayaz’s Family made a huge decision to move to the United States. Experiencing free education in the United States, made Ayaz realize the privilege he had. Ayaz compared himself to when studying in Pakistan, where going to a school meant paying high tuition. Ayaz began studying JAVA and Cloud computing in the summer of sophomore year of his High School. Received AWS certification from Amazon and used it as a stepping stool to engage in other software fields. Ayaz is currently a student at Rutgers University, Studying Computer and Data science. Keeping his privilege in mind, Ayaz goal is to create an organization that offers free education to the ones in need.
Mina Azab was born in Egypt and immigrated to New Jersey when he was just 6 years old. He is now a rising Junior at Infinity Institute. As an immigrant, there were very few opportunities for him to be involved in his community. As Mina grew older, though, he realized the importance of advocating for his community. Seeing that this was a problem for many other young men and women, Mina decided that education of civil liberties and responsibilities was the only way to remedy this dilemma. To help his and the community’s voice be heard, he joined Ali Leadership Institute, where students get to learn how to be more involved civically. Mina hopes to imbody what he has learned through this program to more active in his community and to encourage others to advocate for their own communities as well.
Born and raised in Jersey City, Malak Aziz has long been involved in her community. As a Muslim-Egyptian woman she has been passionate about working to uplift her community as well as those around her. While in high school, she participated in protests against pressing issues like gun violence, inspiring her to become a leader in her own community. Upon graduation, Malak is now attending Stevens Institute of Technology, where she paired her passion for the sciences with studies in public policy to allow her to enact positive change. Malak has given back to the city that raised her through becoming a tutor for high school students. Malak also volunteers as an EMT, where she's been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic. Through this experience, Malak has provided care for hundreds of patients and has observed the issues within the healthcare system firshand. Malak has made it a personal mission to become an advocate for all of her patients, and to use her education and experience to become their voice.
Marisa Syed is a rising senior in County Prep High School. During her freshman year, Marisa realized that there were a lot of community issues that needed some sort of resolution. She started to research and look into what the problems were and wanted to bring them to the forefront for everyone. In County Prep High school, Marisa is a member of student council, is a peer leader, and co-founded her own club which highlights and brings awareness of community issues. Outside of school, Marisa is an intern for the Jersey City City Council, where she actively lobbies for progressive bills through resolutions. Marisa is the executive director of the Justice Education Project, who’s mission is to empower, encourage, and educate the youth on the criminal justice system. Throughout her time in the Justice Education Project,she has helped distribute approximately 11,000 menstrual products nationally and is a co-editor a book called “First Steps Into Criminal Justice Reform”. In addition Marisa created workshops, toolkits, and phonebanks, for youth engagement to increase awareness of our justice system.
Davidi Tawfiles immigrated with his parents from Egypt at the age of 2. He was quickly able to find his home in Jersey City where he is now a rising junior at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School. Davidi is currently a summer intern at Dr. Pinter’s Laboratory in the Public Health Research Institute apart of the New Jersey Medical School where he is using his immigrant past as motivation to assist in the development of a cost-effective point-of-care tuberculosis test. For the past 10 months, he has also been an intern at Dr. De Rubeis’ Laboratory in Icahn Mt. Siani School of Medicine where he has had the opportunity to work with mouse models to help better understand a conditional line of ddx3x syndrome, a neurodegenerative disorder that affects primarily women. Davidi is also an active member of his community volunteering at Sun-Up Health Care as well as the Juvenile Conference Committee.
Born in Jersey City to immigrant, Egyptian parents, Sarah Dardir is a rising senior at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School. She was the treasurer of the National Honor Society, Junior Class Co-Secretary, a dedicated tutor at a local middle school, and helped connect an Autism awareness organization at her school that focuses on e1nploying Autistic adults. She is very passionate about uplifting women and fellow Muslims. When she is not completing workloads of homework, she is tutoring students at her former middle school or advocating for gender equality. Living by the motto of treating others the way she wants to be treated, Sarah is dedicated to ensuring that she gives back to her community, the way they gave for her. Sarah recognizes the importance of using her voice to raise awareness about issues around the world, and hopes to someday make education more equal and accessible for minorities.
Omar Abuattieh is a second generation Palestinian-American who grew up in a very diverse community in Middlesex County, before moving in high school to a less diverse community in Monmouth County. Omar has been involved in community events from administrative positions since high school serving on his mosque’s youth leadership board. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Omar founded a free, emergency shopping/delivery service for the elderly and immunocompromised in his community and, upon collaboration with local government, completed over 350 orders in 4 months. After speaking with old friends in Middlesex county and realizing the impact that civil service can have in local communities, Omar pursued the opportunity to raise awareness for Muslims in Monmouth County and positively impact his town in new ways. After Omar’s preliminary involvement in several mayoral campaigns he was elected as a district representative in his town. Currently Omar is a third year student in Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy’s 6 year program and holds a position as Pharmacy Governing Council Senator. Omar has experience in the medical field as a recent research intern at Rothman’s Orthopaedic Institute, studying the variability among insurance-payer coverage for the treatment of chronic sciatica among different companies and states.
Growing up in the most diverse city in the world, Rania Dadlani looked around her classroom filled with unique faces who related to her beliefs, struggles, and goals. As a student at McNair Academic High School in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rania’s eyes were opened to the injustices faced around her. From feelings of helplessness, she began writing news articles to spread awareness of social issues in the Jersey City Times. Inspired by work she’s seen, she organized Abortion Rallies at City Hall, with the help of her mentor Councilman Daniel Rivera. Throughout the school year, she is on the board for the Student Council and Hudson County-winning Mock Trial team. When she is not studying or working at a law office, she invests her time in youth, volunteering as an assistant coach in Jersey City Lacrosse and the Boys and Girls Club, where she has earned the Bronze Presidential Medal of Youth.
Noran Nazir grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey and is currently a rising freshman at Rutgers University majoring in molecular biology. Through her time volunteering at the Jersey City Medical Center, exploring her interests in cell regeneration in science research, and working as the president of the medical club at McNair Academic High School, she worked to cultivate her interests within the STEM field. Upon seeing the lack of youth engagement in various areas of public policy, Noran was empowered to take an active step to help better her dynamic community and became further enveloped in tying her medical interest into civic engagement. Through the Ali Leadership Institute Noran has gained the power and the initiative to not only achieve these goals, but has gained access to resources helpful towards creating positive change in her community.