Two CASL students, Miriam Bukhsh and Walaa Tout, were honored as Chancellor’s Medallion recipients at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s commencement ceremony on April 27. The students demonstrated excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service. The Chancellor's Medallion is UM-Dearborn's most prestigious academic honor bestowed on students. The University presents the award at each commencement. CASL student Wedad Ibrahim was the student speaker at the ceremony.
Miriam A. Bukhsh will graduate with High Distinction, earning both a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in health policy studies. She earned the William J. Branstrom Prize in 2011 and was named a James B. Angell Scholar in 2014. In addition, she has received University Honors three times and has earned a spot on the Dean’s List six times. She is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship and the Michigan Competitive Scholarship.
Ms. Bukhsh has become an integral member of Dr. Cecilia Speyer’s laboratory at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Dr. Speyer, who is also a lecturer in biology at UM-Dearborn, reports, “For the past three years, I have gotten to know Miriam both in the classroom as well as in my laboratory, where she has demonstrated exemplary performance and leadership skills.’” Ms. Bukhsh co-authored a research abstract titled “Exploring anti-oncogenic properties of riluzole in breast cancer” for presentation to the American Association of Cancer Research’s annual meeting, held April 5-9 in San Diego, California.
During her health policy studies internship, Ms. Bukhsh conducted a survey on hookah use in the local community. As instructor Dr. Julie Berson-Grand remarked, “Although Miriam was the lone sophomore amongst a group of highly capable seniors, her intellectual curiosity and project’s scope far exceeded my expectations and separated her work from her peers…Miriam understands the need for culturally competent primary care providers within the Arab-American community. Her motivation to attend medical school comes from a profound academic interest in the subject of medicine as well as the desire to return to her community as a provider of high-quality care.”
On campus, Ms. Bukhsh has served as an Mpressions member for the Office of Admissions and Orientation since her freshman year. In this role, she works at recruitment events, makes phone calls to prospective students, and leads campus tours for students and families. She is also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and was elected vice president of finance of the Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity, where she organized a large-scale fundraiser to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. In addition, Ms. Bukhsh participates in various off-campus community service projects including volunteering at the Cass Clinic in Detroit, assisting weekly at Gleaner’s Food Bank and serving as a camp counselor at the Maplegrove Rehabilitation Center. Her recent Alternative Spring Break trip to Flint involved helping in food banks and soup kitchens.
Ms. Bukhsh will be attending medical school in the fall.
Walaa Tout graduates with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Graduating with High Distinction, Ms. Tout was named a James B. Angell Scholar in 2013 and 2014, has received University Honors four times and earned a spot on the Dean’s List every semester since Fall 2010. She has won many departmental awards, including Distinguished Senior in Biology in 2012 and Spanish Honors Top Student in 2012 and 2013. She is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship.
Ms. Tout excelled in the Psychology Honors Program. For several years, she has served as a supplemental instructor in numerous classes, including Introductory Psychology, Introductory Sociology and Statistics. This year, she is assistant to the Behavioral Science Supplemental Instruction program coordinator, leading staff meetings, holding additional office hours, being an “on call” SI replacement leader, and sharing and discussing the various classes with their respective professors.
Representing her biology research experience, Dr. Peter Oelkers remarked, “Walaa was half of a duo that brought the use of the round worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a host for C. albicans, into the lab. Walaa and her colleague established protocols for the propagation and subsequent infection of C. elegans. Those studies are now continuing. Upon the creation of additional C. albicans strains harboring mutations in genes that encode for enzymes involved in phospholipid synthesis, we will be ready to perform the virulence assays necessary for a manuscript.” Dr. John Thomas added, “Working hard throughout the term, Ms. Tout finished the (Genetics) class with distinction and in the top 1 percent of students I have had over almost 20 years. Since then she has tutored students needing extra help. During the course of her education, Ms. Tout is motivated by the big questions in biology and in developing some workable solutions to them.”
An active student leader, Ms. Tout recently participated in a performance of The Hijabi Monologues, a collection of stories that portray the experiences of American Muslim women. She is the IT chair of the Muslim Students Association and the current vice president and former secretary of the League of Extraordinary Poets. This year, she is the public relations chair of the Psychology Club, where she helped to organize a campus-wide event for students to discuss the psychological impact of prejudice. Off campus, Ms. Tout has volunteered at University of Michigan’s C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital and American Red Cross—where she also completed an internship—and is the head mentor of the Youth Mentor program at her mosque.
After graduation, Ms. Tout will be applying to medical school.
Wedad Ibrahim will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree with dual majors in political science and history, and a minor in Arabic studies. She successfully completed the requirements for the UM-Dearborn Honors Program and graduates with High Distinction. Ms. Ibrahim earned University Honors three times and earned placement on the Dean’s List every semester since Fall 2010. She has received several scholarships, including the Maize and Blue Scholarship, the Michigan Competitive Scholarship and other private scholarships.
Ms. Ibrahim has been an active student leader. She has served on Student Government since her freshman year, first as a senator, then as director of public relations, and finally, as president for 2013-14. She is co-president of the Political Science Association and is a member of the campus American Red Cross chapter. She has served on numerous campus planning and advisory committees, including Vision 2020 and the New Student Housing Steering Committee. Ms. Ibrahim has spoken on behalf of students at campus events ranging from the New Student Convocation to the Board of Regents Meeting to the Celebrating Victors Campaign Launch.
In addition to her academic and co-curricular activities, Ms. Ibrahim has worked her way through college. On campus, she works as a University Center ambassador, an assistant in the Honors Program office and a research assistant in the History Department. Off campus, she works as a substitute teacher, a hostess at the Henry Ford Village Retirement Community and as an intern for State Representative Rashida Tlaib. Previously, she worked as a legal file clerk at the Detroit law firm Bodman PLC and volunteered as a city organizer with the Friends to Elect David Knezek for State Representative campaign.
Ms. Ibrahim’s commitment to student life is one reason she was recently named a 2014 UM-Dearborn Difference Maker. Nominated by faculty and staff, recipients are recognized for academic achievement, integrity, leadership and creative contribution in and out of the classroom.
Ms. Ibrahim is currently applying to law school and plans to focus on international law.