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Muslim Grad Named UK’s First Rhodes Scholar Since 1955

KENTUCKY – A British Muslim student who attends the University of Kentucky has been named a Rhodes Scholar, one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world.

“I am incredibly honored to have been selected as a Rhodes Scholar,” said Hadeel Abdallah, the daughter of Younes Abdallah and Maissa Abdallah of Lexington, Kentucky Relay Media reported.

“I am looking forward to the educational opportunities provided to me by this award and what it will mean for my future aspirations. I would like to thank my family, friends, mentors and the University of Kentucky for their help in my endeavors thus far.”

The nomination, the first for a student from the UK since 1955, will allow Abdallah to attend Oxford University in England for graduate work.

At Oxford, she plans on getting graduate degrees in refugee and forced migration studies and global governance and diplomacy.

The young Muslim has been a standout student in the UK, actively working for educational opportunities for immigrant and refugee women.

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She founded and directs the Bilal Scholarship Endowment, which provides scholarships to underrepresented students across Kentucky.


A recipient of both the Chellgren Fellowship and the Gaines Fellowship, she previously served as the president of the Muslim Student Association and as director of inclusion and outreach for the UK Student Government Association.

She was also a national outreach director for the Muslim Youth of North America. Earlier this year, she was named a Truman Scholar, a national scholarship that provides $30,000 to 58 US students for graduate work.

“Hadeel’s passion for public service and resolve to make a positive impact on the world are an inspiration to the UK family,” said UK President Eli Capilouto.

“Her story embodies the values and ideals that our campus holds dear: dogged determination and unwavering goodwill. We are so proud of her accomplishments and wish her the best in her journey as a Rhodes Scholar.”

At Dunbar high school, Abdallah worked during her senior year in a mentoring program, where she created an anti-bullying program.

“She was an amazing student, very mature, lots of leadership, empathetic, assertive, and always smiling,” Dunbar teacher Greg O’Bryan said.

“She held leadership positions in all these clubs geared toward helping people, she had the heart to help people.”

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