Abyan Bashir can dedicate more time to community service thanks to the Patricia Counce Memorial Scholarship
UIC has a deep connection with social work and activism. Today our campus surrounds what was formerly Hull- House, Chicago’s first settlement house founded by Jane Addams. And, it’s home to the Jane Addams College of Social Work (JACSW), which attracts a diverse body of students with engaging stories and varied backgrounds, all of whom share the desire to help others.
More than 40 years ago, a promising young UIC alumna was slain in an armed robbery at an El station in Chicago. The sociology major was also a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., which honored her by creating the Patricia Counce Memorial Scholarship. The $4,000 scholarship is a significant source of financial support for its recipients, who are female African-American JACSW students.
This year’s awardee, Abyan Bashir, is a graduate student who has been involved in community activism since her undergraduate years. Bashir, a former refugee of Somalia, knows firsthand the struggles that result from living in a disadvantaged community that lacks resources. “I’ve worked with immigrant families, juvenile offenders and veterans because I want to help communities that can’t help themselves,” says Bashir. “Poverty affects all individuals in the same manner, no matter where you come from. My passion is fighting any injustice.”
Organizations such as the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority are realizing that investments in these students’ educations are not only benefitting the scholarship recipients, but also the lives of the people they influence. And without proper funding, some students have to take leaves of absences or drop out altogether. For social work students, this might mean not being able to work with destitute populations.
“This scholarship helps me ease the financial pain of paying for graduate school, “says Bashir. “Now, rather than working, I can dedicate more time to advocating for social improvements in poor neighborhoods and take electives that will strengthen my advocating skills.”
“Our ability to provide financial support to students is essential as we compete with some of the top schools in the country for academically capable students,” says Edward Potts, Director of Financial Aid and Admissions at JACSW. “Strong financial support from our friends and graduates, like Delta Sigma Theta, helps ensure we are competitive from a cost and academic perspective.”
Having the financial support of the scholarship means that Bashir and students who come after her can continue to work toward solutions to today’s societal problems. “The UIC community wants to help students along their paths,” says Bashir. “This scholarship is an example of the supportive environment I’m in.”