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School Spotlight: Ms. Awatef Ibrahim

by: Michelle Makabali, Community School Director Long Island City High School

Zone 126 would like to congratulate Long Island City High School Parent Coordinator, Awatef Ibrahim, for being named as a Women’s Forum/Macy’s Inc. Fellow. Her high achievement, having been selected as one of 10 women from over 500 applicants, has enabled her to receive grants through the Women’s Forum of New York’s Education Fund.

Mrs. Ibrahim is one of Long Island City High School’s amazing parent coordinators. Her role includes cultivating relationships with families and communicating the needs of families to appropriate school staff for support.

Her passion for education stems not just from her work ethic, but also as a hard-working student.  Ms. Ibrahim immigrated to the United States from Egypt at the age of four.  She completed high school within 3 years and subsequently received a college acceptance. However, her family urged her to get married and return to Egypt.  A decade and 3 beautiful children later, Ms. Ibrahim returned back to New York with her family.  As the key English speaking parent of her family, she navigated through the ups and downs of the New York City school system.

She realized very quickly that she needed and not just wanted to complete college in order to obtain more career choices. Ms. Ibrahim enrolled into the Associate’s program at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. She remembers being “scared and nervous leading up to her first days of school.” She thought that she would be the eldest and was unsure if this was the right thing to do.

Her nerves eased tremendously when she met fellow undergraduates who were in her age group.  She realized she wanted to focus her work in the education field and eventually aspired to become a post secondary high school teacher in English for her bachelor’s degree.

Ms. Ibrahim’s eldest daughter recently began her college application journey. Ms. Ibrahim felt that the money and energy should focus on her child.  Upon discussing opportunities with her professor, Ms. Ibrahim expressed her feeling that any incoming funds should be dedicated to her daughters who were also applying to colleges.  Her professor connected her to the scholarship opportunity from the “Women’s Forum of New York.”  This Education Fund Scholarship is given to 10 women over the age of 35 who have faced and overcome adversity, and after an interruption in their education are pursuing a bachelor’s degree.  What makes this award unique is that it goes directly to the recipient for whatever needs are pertinent.  For example, medical bills, elder care, transportation, tuition, childcare.

Even after the award is distributed, the women are given multiple networking and mentoring opportunities.  Reflecting back on this opportunity, Ms. Ibrahim says “she feels honored because they had over 500 applicants and choose only 10 women.  I found through this process you are never too old, its never too late.”

Her life experiences now shape how she and her husband communicate with their daughters.  Ms. Ibrahim states that the top priority is to complete your education and at minimum receive your bachelor’s degree.  She has informed her daughters that education is the top priority and one must establish their identity as an independent person before making additional life-long commitments.

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