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Presidential scholar selected for prestigious Carnegie Fellowship

"In the long run, what matters the most to me is that I leave the world better than I found it.”--Faaiza Rashid

Faaiza Rashid, a current Presidential Scholar working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations, recently learned that she was selected for a prestigious Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Junior Fellowship.

Rashid, who graduated from Lehigh with highest honors this past June with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering, will be one of less than 10 students across the country to receive research assistance to work on the Carnegie Endowment’s international projects focused on non-proliferation, democracy building, trade, U.S. leadership, China-related issues and Russian/Eurasian studies.

As a Junior Fellow, Rashid, who was born in Iraq, will also have the opportunity to conduct research for books, co-author journal articles and policy papers, participate in meetings with high-level officials, contribute to congressional testimony, and organize briefings attended by scholars, activists, journalists and government officials.

Rashid says she learned about the Carnegie Fellowship program through the international relations department, and that she spoke with several professors before embarking on the intensive, months-long application process.

“I was very interested in the program and talked with Professor (Raj) Menon, Professor (Henri) Barkey, Provost Mohamed El- Aasser, and Professor Joseph Yukich, and they were all very encouraging,” she says. “For the application, I worked most closely with Professor Menon. I cannot thank him enough for the advice he provided me and the faith he showed in me.”

Rashid identifies Menon as a primary influence in her decision to pursue a second Bachelor’s degree in international relations.

A person of extraordinary promise

“During the second semester of my senior year, I took a course with Professor Menon, and found him to be an exceptional teacher and mentor,” she says. “I took more and more interest in the department during my last semester, and was extremely inspired by the faculty.”

Menon is equally enthusiastic in his praise of Rashid, characterizing the opportunity to teach her as “a privilege and a pleasure.”

“Students like Faaiza remind me how fortunate I am to be a teacher and how noble my profession can be,” says Menon. “She is, without a doubt, among the very best, most interesting, and most promising students I have taught in over 25 years as a professor. Faaiza's life experience (she has lived in Canada, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan), her intellectual versatility and her commitment to using her intellect and education to improve others' lives make her a person of extraordinary promise. Her association with Lehigh will bring great credit to the University.”

Menon also notes that her decision to major in international relations after obtaining a degree in chemical engineering “exemplifies the way in which Lehigh can enrich and broaden its students' intellectual lives and professional trajectory.”

Rashid explains that she majored in chemical engineering as an undergraduate to gain the technical skills necessary for setting up effective infrastructures in underdeveloped countries.

“Having lived in the Middle East,” she says, “my life experiences have inspired me to work towards international peace and development, and I wanted to get a degree in that area to enhance my understanding of the world.”

Her decision to work toward a career in international peace and development was also strongly influenced by Bruce Moon, international relations professor.

“I’m currently taking two classes with him and I’m studying the political economy of north/south relations, which lays the framework for a course in poverty and development,” she says. “My project group is recommending a development policy for Egypt.”

A desire to leave the world better than she found it

Although her long-term goals are lofty in theory, Rashid tends toward the practical when assessing the potential impact she can make.

“I have a very strong interest in international development and international peace, which I see as intertwined,” she says. “I also want to work towards international cultural, social, human and political development. But in the long run, what matters the most to me is that I leave the world better than I found it.”

Rashid was selected from a pool of nominees from nearly 300 colleges across the country. Applicants to the program must be graduating seniors or students who graduated during the last academic year.

The Carnegie Junior Fellowship is the latest in a long list of accomplishments credited to Rashid during her time at Lehigh.

She is the recipient of General Collin Powell Scholarship, Elizabeth Major Nevius Award, Society of Women Engineers Scholarship 2002, William Chandler Award in Chemical Engineering 2002, Wilbur Award in Mathematics, Hicks Award in Chemical Engineering, and the Class of 1904 Award in Leadership. Most recently, she was awarded the Aurie N. Dunlap Prize in International Relations.

In addition to serving as a Head Gryphon for a two years and a Gryphon for one, she was also co-chair of the Reality and Diversity Committee, a multicultural intern at the Admissions Office, International Students Ambassador, research assistant at the Energy Resource Center, part of the Conference Services Reservation team, peer tutor for physics, grader for Computer Programming, and Residence House Council Advisor. She is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Phi Eta Sigma, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and National Society of Collegiate Scholars Honor Societies.

Please see the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Web site for more information.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2005

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