2019 Retreat Fellows
Keyona Shears received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her passions are making emotional connections with people, providing a safe space for human growth, connecting with the youth by demonstrating the bridge between the real world and the practice of Islam, and overall volunteering for community service.
By participating in this fellowship, Keyona hopes to learn more about her passion for social activism and to meet like-minded and unlike-minded individuals that will help her implement an inclusive attitude in the spaces she holds a place in.
Yasmin Bedwan is a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, majoring in Political Science with minors in Spanish and Arabic. She is passionate about law and giving a voice to those who don’t have one linguistically or legally. She loves learning languages and hopes to use them to grow relationships internationally and nationwide with many organizations who help the less fortunate.
Uyen Nguyen is a senior at Davidson College where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies and minor in Economics. At Davidson, Uyen is an active figure on campus, serving as the SGA Senator, Academic Liaison of Black Student Coalition, and Representative of Asian Cultural Awareness Association.
Along with her activism on campus, she is also a candidate for an honors thesis in Africana Studies , which explores the experience of Black women in the prison system. After graduation, she plans to pursue a dual degree JD/Ph.D. program to study law and Africana Studies, specifically Afro-Asian historical relations.
Zineb Baali is a Meredith College graduate with a Bachelors degree in Public Health with minors in Spanish and Nutrition. As a previous executive board member of Triangle Muslim Aid (TMA), Zineb was dedicated to working with underprivileged communities in the triangle. She is now an elementary school teacher at Al-Iman School and a certified Spanish tutor. She hopes to pursue her masters in social work in the near future.
Yasmine Flodin-Ali is an Islamic Studies PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on the history of racial identity in Muslim communities in the United States. Yasmine has a background in interfaith and educational equity work. She hopes to bring a social justice perspective to her work by engaging in community conversation and educational initiatives.
Aaliah Bogin is a junior Pre-Law student with a Philosophy Minor at North Carolina A&T State University. Aaliah serves as not only the Political Action Chair for the NCAT NAACP, the Treasurer of the NCAT National Black Law Student Association but the Treasurer of the Natural and Proud Sistas as well.
She is passionate about increasing voter education particularly among her student body, she is a consistent advocate for normalizing clean and vegan food options in communities of color and furthermore, she has placed an immense value on sisterhood and supporting black and brown women. Her ultimate career goals include becoming a civil rights attorney with a concentration on immigration litigation.
Naijla Faizi is currently pursuing her Masters in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. She was previously the Director of Programming for Muslim Life at her alma mater, Wake Forest University. Prior to this position Naijla worked in youth development nonprofits in Washington D.C.
Naijla hopes to connect her passions for Muslim Life and youth development, and to use this retreat to build a network with other passionate womxn and femmes in NC.
Salma Syed is a senior at North Carolina State University studying Psychology and Spanish. She works closely with Student Action with Farmworkers as an intern, and she recently joined the Movement to Racism and Islamophobia as a Co-Coordinator.
Salma works from her heart and has a passion for immigrant justice, women’s empowerment, and advocacy for mental health. Through this fellowship, Salma hopes to gain new connections and to grow as a leader and community organizer.
Dalia Namak is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University, having majored in Politics and International Affairs and Anthropology, and minoring in Middle East and South Asia Studies. Her previous research includes the role of exilic Iraqi poetry as a form of resistance against the Saddam Hussein regime, and factors of conversion for American Muslim women.
She currently works as a Wake Forest Fellow in the Office of the Dean of the College, and seeks to incorporate social justice in her immediate community, as well as any project that comes her way. Through this opportunity, she would like to connect with other activists, and dig deeper into social justice work, theory, and practice(s).
Huma Hashmi is a junior at Meredith College, majoring in Biology and Public Health with a minor in Psychology and Chemistry. She is during a student researcher focused on women’s health and autoimmune disorders. She has been president of Meredith College’s History and Politics Club and now works on the board of Angels for the Environment and Meredith MSA to promote sustainability, decolonizing institutions and combating mental health stigma.
She is working on creating a decolonized female-centered perspective to approach the world and mental health. In her free time, she bikes, sew and writes.
2018 Retreat Fellows
Sarah Mounib is a sophomore at North Carolina State University, pursuing a degree in Human Biology with minors in Nutrition Science and the language of French. Sarah is a student who loves to dedicate her time in different extracurriculars such as community service, religious service, and many other opportunistic activities relating to activism. She is a co-founder of American Muslims For Humanity, which provides the incentive for other young adults in the local community to partake in a chance to alleviate some of the problems at hand and to give a teaching experience for the young adults to see how one step could provide a different perspective on how they could change and aid their community into the right direction.
From this fellowship, Sarah is hoping to gain new ideals, to have an eye-opening experience on pressing matters of today, to benefit and form new relationships, and to grasp what necessary steps must be taken to further the message of what the fellowship is presenting to someone such as herself to whomever she may meet in the future.
Chandra Manivannan is a junior at North Carolina State University, studying Computer Science and Applied Mathematics with a minor in Spanish. Chandra is also a member of the Goodnight Scholars Program, which is a community of scholars who are passionate about promoting STEM and STEM Education disciplines in North Carolina and beyond. She hopes to combine her passions for technology and education access, both in North Carolina and in a global context.
Chandra is also a student organizer with Students for Immigrant Rights and Equality, raising the voices of marginalized members of our community. Through this fellowship, Chandra hopes to learn how to build coalitions of strong women and how to better advocate for a more equitable and sustainable North Carolina.
Genesis Torres is a senior at North Carolina State University, majoring in Psychology. She president of Students for Immigrant Rights at North Carolina State University and a board member of Witness for Peace Southeast. Genesis hopes to expand her toolkit as a social activist leader through better communication skills, working in different group dynamics, and building relationships.
Maha Al-Ameen Ballard is a rising first-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who plans to study pre-med. She works as a barista for Starbucks where she uses her customer service skills to connect and form relationships with customers of all backgrounds.
Maha hopes she can build new friendships with other empowered, multicultural women, be pushed out of her comfort zone, and acquire a multitude of skills she can use for the rest of her career.
Nida Allam is the 3rd Vice Chair of the NCDP, Chair of the Mayor of Durham’s Council for Women and community organizer. She is passionate about social justice because she believes in equal opoortunity for all.
Kayla Cheston is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, majoring in Environmental & Sustainability Studies with minors in Spanish and Sociology. She is about environmental justice issues, specifically those surrounding food justice, and is a strong advocate for community gardening efforts and in the importance of having healthy relationships with the food that we consume.
Kayla is also currently in training to become a doula so that she can provide essential birthing/post-partum services to people of color. Through this retreat, she hopes to foster long lasting connections with the other attendees as well as cultivate her knowledge to become a more well-rounded organizer.
Sara Darwish is a junior at North Carolina State University studying Social Work and Arabic. She is also the co-founder and host of Oak City Move, a radio program on NC State’s student radio station that highlights people and organizations enacting positive change in their communities. She is passionate about civic engagement, social welfare, international development, and representative journalism. Through this fellowship, Sara hopes to grow her leadership and storytelling skills while establishing new connections.
Kathia is a Mexican American immigrant of 25 years old mother that has adapted Islam as a way of life. She attended Kaplan university for 2 years, where she studied Human Services, she now works as a community social worker, providing medical services for the low-income uninsured population in her county. She would like to make a difference in her community, with whom she is involved; by providing resources and at the same time even encouraging union.
Na’ilah El-Amin is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Peace, Conflict and Identity. Na’ilah is passionate about elevating marginalized voices and engaging communities in conversations on the importance of diversity work. She was a founding member of Mecklenburg Ministries’ Youth Leadership Council and currently serves on Masjid Ash Shaheed’s Board of Trustees. Na’ilah’s overarching goal in her work is to inspire others to question biases and institutional prejudice.
Sinthia Shabnam is a senior at NC State University double majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy and Sociology . She served as a research assistant in studying the connections between crime, immigration, racial rhetoric and media, and also serves as the Education Chair for the Muslim Students Association at NC State. Sinthia aspires to run for office and diversify government to humanize people of color and expand fair opportunities to succeed in America for all.
Iymani Spruill is a student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro majoring in Psychology and African Diaspora studies with a minor in sociology. Iymani has decided to dedicate her career and organizing to be primarily centered around mental health within marginalized communities. With this fellowship, it is her wish that she is able to foster new relationships, learn the tools of effective activism and leadership to create opportunities and resources to transform and uplift her community, creating lasting change.