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11 Questions for Truman Scholar Yaseen Eldik

Yaseen Eldik is the first Stony Brook student to win a Truman Scholarship. The award recognizes college juniors with “exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service, and provide[s] them with financial support for graduate study, leadership training and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service.” Eldik is double majoring in Psychology and Sociology.

Describe that moment in President Stanley’s office when you and your family learned that you had been named a Truman Scholar.
I was completely taken off guard! I did not see it coming at all; I really believed I was just a Finalist and when the President surprised me with the great news, I had trouble believing it.

You worked for several months on your application for the Truman Scholarship. Can you share with us what that process was like?
The entire application process was both arduous and tedious. It took a lot of self-reflection, cognitive energy, and late nights. The questions elicited big responses, but were restrained by character count so I had trouble condensing the answer choices to such a small space.

What are the highlights of being President of Stony Brook’s Science and Society Council and a Student Ambassador?
Science and Society Council gives me the opportunity to become a part of students’ lives here at Stony Brook. I get to mentor my peers and create initiatives to become a part of the neighboring Long Island community. We do a lot of community service, ranging from work with the Port Jefferson Animal Shelter to the Stony Brook hospital as well as the Pilgrim Psych. Center. Giving back is always self-fulfilling.
Being a Student Ambassador sharpens my role as a leader and allows me to become a part of the greater campus community by working with other Student Leaders from a wide range of organizations and clubs here on campus. We build on each other’s skills–[something that] helps me grow as a person. I also love meeting incoming freshmen during Admitted Students Day and relieving their anxiety about [starting] college.

What classes have you most enjoyed at SBU?
I would say my most enjoyable class has been my English Independent Study with Dr. Susan Scheckel, who has played a pivotal role in my development as a student. We explored Islamophobic Sentiment in the United States and in Europe and have worked on a number of research articles together. Also, Gender and Work with Dr. Cather Marrone, who is absolutely gifted at making students a part of the learning process and taking them back through the development of racial and sexual dynamics in contemporary American society and in the world.

Have you had any memorable experiences abroad?
I travelled to Israel and participated in workshops of conflict resolution on the Arab Israeli conflict with Israeli and Arab Israeli college students. This experience paved the road I have been travelling on to shatter Islamophobia.

Can you tell us about your summer research experience at Harvard University?
It was a summer of pure intellectual growth. I worked intensely on an article entitled “Islamophobia: Is She a Terrorist?” which examined media portrayals of women in Muslim countries and Europe to identify in what ways these images affect perceptions of non-Muslims on Islam.
 
How will you be spending this summer?
I will be taking a vacation of some sort and then interning with the United Jewish Association of America.
 
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love swimming, reading novels, and, now that summer is here, bathing in the sun.
 
Who inspires you?
My mother, Chaplain Sanaa Nadim.
 
What is the most significant challenge confronting America today?
There are many but in my opinion, [the most significant challenge facing America is] the great divide between our two largest political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. They need to find a way to work together in a more civil and cohesive manner so that this country can move forward in a positive direction. 

What are your post-graduation plans? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I have not yet completely decided on my graduate plans, but most likely [I will pursue] a Masters in Public Affairs or Social Work. In ten years, I hope to be working for a government agency or a non-profit organization.

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