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Ismail Najar, Athena Scholar, Class of 2018

Tell us about yourself:

I’ve been a Queens native all my life and graduated from Francis Lewis High School.  Though my interests run the gambit (psychology, music, art, and writing), I always find myself turning back to philosophy for comfort.  While overlooked for its esoteric and, dare I say it, pretentious nature, it offers a unique insight on the world around us.  One could go so far as to say that it speaks to a neglected part of our souls and minds—the part that wants answers.



How has your scholarship helped you?

The Athena Scholar Program presented me with a multi-faceted curriculum.  Mythology, poetry, and classic/modern philosophy filled my schedule during my first term at Hunter.  To say that my classes were daunting would be an understatement.  The lectures were wonderful with fantastic professors.  The reading, however, was taxing.  I recall poring over convoluted texts from long-dead intellectuals and thinking to myself “Where did it all go wrong?”

In time, however, I began to see how the Athena curriculum formed an educational lattice; each subject flowed neatly into the next. Philosophy is interwoven in life; it fits in so seamlessly it goes unnoticed unless thoroughly examined.  It is a difficult subject to grapple with because you are, in essence, trying to make sense of existence and all of its constituents.  The program has enriched me by providing subjects that are integral to being a well-rounded thinker, helping me reexamine the world I thought I knew, and offering lectures and readings by some of today’s pioneering philosophers.  With this new-found knowledge, I strive to help others enrich their lives by doing the same.

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