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Virginia Muslim Student Honored as Newman Civic Fellow

BRIDGEWATER, Virginia – Bridgewater College Muslim student Iyad Hmidat has been named a Newman Civic Fellow by Boston-based Campus Compact for demonstrating a capacity for leadership and investment in solving public problems, August Free Press reported.

Hmidat was nominated for the fellowship by Bridgewater College President Dr. David Bushman, who wrote in his nomination letter that Hmidat “is known as a reliable and thoughtful student throughout campus, serving the College and surrounding community in myriad ways.”

Selected along with 262 students, the junior political science and economics double major will embark on a one-year experience, from September 2019 to May 2020, that emphasizes personal, professional and civic growth via networking opportunities.

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Along with civic and social service, Hmidat has been very active in the Muslim community throughout the Shenandoah Valley, reaching out to area middle schools, and developing and implementing training for students in debate and public speaking.

He also founded the Muslim Student Association at Bridgewater College and co-founded the College’s Model United Nations.

Hmidat said he was motivated to form the Muslim Student Association at Bridgewater because some students were misinformed about Islam and its beliefs.

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“Since then, I have been committed to promoting dialogues and conversations between students from various backgrounds, as it is difficult for democracy to function when we lack understanding of each other,” Hmidat wrote in his personal statement in the fellowship application.

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,900 undergraduate students.

The Muslim Student Association, or Muslim Student Union, of the US and Canada, also known as MSA National, is a religious organization dedicated to establishing and maintaining Islamic societies on college campuses in Canada and the United States.

Hmidat is not the only Muslim student to receive a prestigious honor.

In May 2018, American Muslim student Shaezmina Khan won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations of Central and Southern New Jersey for her work to change how the Western world views Islam.