UIC sophomore named Rangel Scholar

Usama Ibrahim, a dual-degree candidate in neuroscience and political science at UIC.

Usama Ibrahim, a dual-degree candidate in neuroscience and political science at UIC. Photo: UIC Photo Services (Click image to download)

A University of Illinois at Chicago sophomore is one of 15 scholars selected nationwide for the 2015 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program.

Usama Ibrahim, a neuroscience and political science major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the first student from UIC chosen to participate in the selective six-week program promoting greater diversity in U.S. representation abroad.

Ibrahim, a student in the UIC Honors College, will spend the summer learning about current issues and trends in international affairs while obtaining a greater understanding of career opportunities in the field and the enhanced knowledge and skills to pursue such careers.

Co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department and Howard University’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, the program provides students a stipend and covers the costs for tuition, travel, meals and housing.

Beginning in late June, Ibrahim will live at Howard University and take two courses and a seminar focusing on U.S. foreign policy, economics and writing. He’ll participate in a variety of programs with foreign affairs professionals at Howard and around Washington, D.C.

The Lemont, Illinois, resident says he enjoys studying Middle Eastern and international politics but is equally concerned about domestic and international human rights issues. He has enrolled in UIC classes that cover these topics and he also independently studies related current events and issues.

“We are a country that promotes democratic ideals, so we should be the ones standing up against potentially dangerous situations for those that are not necessarily American,” Ibrahim said. “It should be our responsibility as global citizens to spread awareness of injustices occurring domestically and abroad. Knowledge can be the key to the change.”

Living in Brooklyn, New York, during the Sept. 11 attacks shaped his interest in studying U.S. policy and foreign politics.

“It was an interesting dynamic at that time as a young, Muslim-American living in New York,” he said. “There were most certainly circumstances where individuals in the community expressed their discomfort with our being there.”

Ibrahim is undecided on his future education plans, but a career in politics and public service has been his goal since childhood.

A 2013 graduate of Universal School in Bridgeview, Illinois, Ibrahim was admitted to UIC as part of the President’s Award Program Honors Scholarship, UIC’s most prestigious four-year tuition and housing scholarship, given to exemplary incoming first-year Honors College students.

He was awarded a 2015 Chancellor’s Student Service and Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding UIC student leaders for commitment to service and community engagement.

Through the Peer Health Exchange volunteer program, he teaches health workshops in Chicago Public Schools that would not otherwise have a health curriculum. As a member of the group’s leadership council, he teaches and mentors undergraduate peers to teach the workshops.

Ibrahim is president of Healing Arts, a UIC student volunteer organization that provides art enhancement programs for elementary school children. As a UIC Honors Ambassador, he serves as a student liaison to prospective and incoming Honors College freshmen.

The Rangel Scholar program is named for Charles B. Rangel, now serving his 23rd term as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 13th Congressional District of New York.

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