Hunter College student Faiza Masood, Class of 2017, has been selected as a recipient of one of the most prestigious academic honors, the Marshall Scholarship, it was announced today. She is one of only two students in New York State to receive the Marshall this year, and a first for Hunter College. The Marshall Scholarship, which provides for graduate study at a United Kingdom institution in any field of study, goes to up to 40 students a year, and is often compared to the Rhodes Scholarship. The other winner selected from a New York school this year attends West Point.
The Marshall Scholarship is one of the most prominent of nationally competitive post-baccalaureate scholarships. Typically, more than 800 seniors in the United States apply each year.
City University of New York Chancellor James B Milliken said, “We are immensely proud of Faiza Masood’s well-deserved achievement. This is a testament to her talent, drive and hard work, as well as to the quality of her education at Hunter College. Faiza, like so many students at Hunter and CUNY, is the children of immigrants and an example of the gifts they bring to our campuses. She is the seventh CUNY student to be awarded this great honor. Immigrants and their families have always been among our most outstanding students and they go on to make great contributions to New York. I’m sure Faiza will do the same.”
“We are so proud of Faiza and very pleased that her hard work both in and out of the classroom is being recognized by this prestigious program,” said Jennifer Raab, President of Hunter College, part of The City University of New York. “In Arabic, Faiza means winner, and Faiza certainly is one.”
At Hunter College, Masood majors in religion in the Special Honors Program with minors in Arabic Studies and Asian American Studies. She already won summer fellowships to study Arabic, which is not her native language, in Jordan and Morocco.
In the fall of 2015 she was chosen to attend the Harvard Divinity School’s Diversity and Explorations Program. The Marshall will enable her to earn a Master’s degree at one of the British universities.
Masood plans on focusing her studies on Islamic Law and efforts to ensure it is flexible and adapted to modern societies. The fact that it has changed with the times gives her reason to believe it can keep evolving. “It is very much time for Islamic scholars interpreting sources to come up with new law that is appropriate for this new modern context,” says Masood.
Masood’s parents immigrated to New York from Pakistan and have worked hard to provide for their family. Her father worked in candy stores for most of her life and her mother is a homemaker. They have never taken a vacation, focusing instead on saving for their children’s education. Masood attended a small religious school in Queens with 10 girls in her graduating class. She has three older sisters, including one, Hajara, who is also studying religion at Hunter.
When Masood got the call that she had been named a Marshall Scholar, she was in the middle of planning an event for the Interfaith Club she started at Hunter.
She hopes to go on to get a PhD in Islamic Studies and return to teach “in a public institution like Hunter,” because that’s what changed her own life.
The Marshall Scholarship, founded in 1953 by an Act of Parliament in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, commemorates the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan.
Marshall Scholars receive funding for one or two years of graduate studies as well as an annual book grant, thesis grant and a research and daily travel grant. In addition, they receive money for university fees, cost-of-living expenses, and fares to and from the United States.
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY School of Medicine, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy.