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Mohammad earns UW System ‘Outstanding Women of Color’ award

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Heba Mohammad, a second-year University of Wisconsin-Green Bay student active in student government and campus diversity initiatives, has been selected to receive a 2012 Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award presented by the UW System.

UW-Green Bay faculty and staff members who nominated Mohammad for the UW System award praised her activism, advocacy, leadership abilities and institutional contributions to improve the status and climate for women of color.

Heba Mohammad

Heba Mohammad

“I have been extremely impressed with Heba’s leadership, motivation, follow-up and communication skills,” wrote one of her nominators, Dean of Students Brenda Amenson-Hill. “She does an excellent job with sharing information, gathering facts and helping groups move forward on important projects and issues.”

Mohammad has a double major, in History and Political Science. She entered the spring semester with junior standing and a near-perfect gradepoint average.

Recognition by the UW System coincides with another distinguished honor. On April 4 Mohammad was elected by her peers to serve as president of the UW-Green Bay Student Government Association for 2012-13.

As SGA’s current coordinator for equality and diversity issues, Mohammad has been an energetic advocate for re-establishing child care — either institutionally operated or by a private service provider — at UW-Green Bay, which has been without an on-campus facility since the former children’s center closed in 1994. She has been a leader in gathering data from students, faculty and staff via surveys and open forums.

On the programming side, she contributed significant time this spring to help organize an ambitious series of events for Women’s History Month in March and to promote Black History Month in February. She is helping mobilize volunteers for the upcoming UW-Green Bay Pow Wow on April 14. She has also been an advocate for resources for the LGBTQ community on campus, including the establishment this year of a dedicated center in the University Union.

Mohammad works as a resident assistant in the student housing complex and is a teaching assistant in Prof. Katia Levintova’s Global Politics and Society class.

In her recommendation of Mohammad, Levintova wrote, “To have Heba as part of our teaching team this semester is truly invaluable, not only because it is important for students to see cultural diversity in the classroom… Heba’s part also extends to genuine mentoring of students inside and outside the classroom.”

A 2010 graduate of Greenfield High School and the daughter of Arab-American parents of Palestinian descent, Mohammad says that while the Green Bay area and its University are not quite as diverse as her former community, the metropolitan Milwaukee area, she is encouraged that campus and community here do celebrate a variety of cultures.

“It makes me happy that with the various multicultural programs, and student organizations, people appear to be accepting and interested in other perspectives,” she comments. “It’s not just this group of people interacting only with people like them, or that group over there mostly sticking to themselves.

“My personal appearance and dress… I guess it’s not obvious at first glance that I might have a ‘different’ cultural heritage or faith… but when I introduce myself to people (and they hear my name)… if they ask, I tell them I’m a Palestinian American, and perhaps if it comes up, that I founded the Muslim Student Association on campus. But I don’t believe people are, or should be, defined by a single ‘ism.’”

Mohammad will be one of 16 individuals — faculty, staff or students from each of the System’s 13 universities, UW Extension, the two-year colleges and central administration — to be honored at a statewide conference Oct. 5 and 6 at UW-Oshkosh. The awards are sponsored by the UW System’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the statewide Women’s Studies Consortium.

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