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Student spotlight: A word from our new Hellmann Scholar

September 3, 2020

Arwa Mokdad in Germany
Arwa Mokdad in Mainz, Germany.

Jackson School student Arwa Mokdad in Mainz, Germany.

In July, Arwa Mokdad, a rising senior majoring in international studies with a focus on human rights, was selected as the 2020-2021 recipient of the annual Donald C. and Margery S. Hellmann Scholar award. The award, unique to the Jackson School, provides a stipend for a student entering their senior year to pursue an experiential learning experience for a career in the international arena. In this Q&A, she shares with us her journey to the UW, the Jackson School and her passion for human rights.

Name: Arwa Mokdad
Studies: B.A. International Studies (Human Rights)
Year expected to graduate: 2021
Hometown: Mercer Island, Washington
Foreign languages: Arabic
Favorite quote: “Education can raise structureless homes while ignorance destroys even the most well-established homes” -Ahmed Shawqi

How did you choose UW? During my junior year of high school, I took an Arabic summer course at the University of Washington. I was impressed both by the course itself and my peers. It was my first time being in a diverse academic space with such motivated people which enhanced my learning. After that experience, I knew I wanted to attend UW!

How did you decide to major in International Studies? I decided to major in International Studies two weeks into my first quarter. The Jackson School’s emphasis on global citizenship and engagement resonated with me. As a child of Arab immigrants, I understand the importance of cross-cultural exchange and cooperation which the Jackson School stresses. Using my studies and experiences at the Jackson School, I hope to contribute to our increasingly connected world.

Tell us about the places you’ve been able to study or research abroad as an International Studies major. As an International Studies major, I have been able to study in Oman, Beirut, D.C. and Rome. These opportunities have furthered my understanding of cultural nuances. I no longer see the world as a black and white binary. Due to these diverse experiences, I plan on living abroad as much as possible.

What is your ideal career, from your viewpoint as a rising senior?  I am interested in pursuing a career in international humanitarian law. I hope to address human rights concerns in the Middle East either through an intergovernmental organization or more local NGOs.

Tell us about your reaction to the Donald C. and Margery S. Hellmann Scholar award.  I am honored and humbled to be this year’s Hellmann Scholar. This achievement would have not been possible without my professors and peers in the Jackson School. Throughout my time at UW, they have supported me and inspired my passion for international studies.

Tell us where and what will you be doing on the scholarship. I hope to apply the award funding to increasing my international involvement. Post-graduation, I plan on taking a gap year and living in the Middle East before beginning law school. This scholarship will help fund my time abroad.

Tell us how you think the Hellmann award will help in your career path. Through the financial support the Hellmann award offers, I am able to devote myself to international human rights in the Middle East. As I plan on using the scholarship to take a gap year in the Middle East, this award will help me improve my Arabic and perspective on the nuances of the region.

What advice do you have for students considering a Jackson School major? Talk to as many people as possible! Whether it be peers or faculty – do not be afraid to reach out and start dialogue! The Jackson School is filled with amazing people who can teach you so much about the world.