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Hunter College Student and Daughter of Pakistani Immigrants Receives Highly Prestigious Marshall Scholarship

Hunter College Student and Daughter of Pakistani Immigrants Receives Highly Prestigious Marshall Scholarship

Faiza Masood (on right) with Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab

(December 12, 2016)  Hunter College of the City University of New York student Faiza Masood, Class of 2017, has been selected as a Marshall Scholar, it was announced today. She is one of only two students in New York State to receive the Marshall this year, and a first for Hunter College.  The Marshall Scholarship goes to up to 40 students a year, and is often compared to the Rhodes Scholarship. The other winner selected from a New York school this year attends West Point.

"We are so proud of Faiza and very pleased that her hard work both in and out of the classroom is being recognized by this prestigious program," said Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab. "In Arabic, Faiza means winner, and Faiza certainly is one."

According to President Raab, Hunter has a new office modeled after those at top private universities that will offer support and guidance, including interview training, to enable deserving students to make it through the top graduate scholarship application process.  "We've always known we've had some of the best and the brightest, and these new services will help ensure that students like Faiza can compete among the most elite students in the world," said President Raab."

Chancellor James B Milliken said, "We are immensely proud of Faiza Masood's well-deserved achievement. This is a testament to her talent, drive and hard work, as well as to the quality of her education at Hunter College. Faiza, like so many students at Hunter and CUNY, is the children of immigrants and an example of the gifts they bring to our campuses. She is the seventh CUNY student to be awarded this great honor. Immigrants and their families have always been among our most outstanding students and they go on to make great contributions to New York. I'm sure Faiza will do the same."

Masood, a member of the Thomas Hunter Honors Program, majors in religion with minors in Arabic Studies and Asian American Studies. She already won summer fellowships to study Arabic, which is not her native language, in Jordan and Morocco. In the fall of 2015 she was also chosen to attend the Harvard Divinity School's Diversity and Explorations Program.  The Marshall will enable her to earn a Master's degree studying Islamic law with an emphasis on gender studies and family law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, or Oxford.

While the popular perception of Islamic law is that it is inflexible, Masood discovered that historically it was nuanced and sophisticated. The fact that it has changed with the times gives her reason to believe it can keep evolving. "It is necessary for Islamic scholars to understand Islamic law within a modern context," says Masood.

Masood was raised by parents who emigrated from Pakistan. She attended a private Islamic school in Queens with 10 students in her graduating class. She has three older sisters, including one, Hajara, who is studying religion at Hunter with her now.

When Masood got the call that she had won the scholarship, she was in the middle of planning an event for the Interfaith Club she started at Hunter.

She hopes to go on to get a Ph.D. in Islamic Law and return to teach "in a public institution like Hunter," because that's what changed her own life.

The Marshall Scholarship, founded in 1953 by an Act of Parliament in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, commemorates the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan.  The scholarship expresses the continuing gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts.

Marshall Scholars receive funding for one or two years of graduate studies as well as an annual book grant, thesis grant and a research and daily travel grant.  In addition, they receive money for university fees, cost-of-living expenses, and fares to and from the United States.  The Marshall Scholarship is one of the most prominent of nationally competitive post-baccalaureate scholarships. Typically, more than 800 seniors in the United States apply each year.

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