Mariam Muhammad ’24, a sophomore student at Swarthmore College, demonstrates an abiding commitment to education and social justice, as well as exceptional leadership promise. Mariam has served the Swarthmore campus community in myriad ways: International Orientation Leader, Contributing Editor for Swarthmore Review, Lang Center Associate, and Leadership Fellow at the Center for Innovation and Leadership. As a Chester Community Fellow during summer 2021, Mariam supported musical and administrative tasks of the Chester Children’s Chorus (CCC), in addition to tutoring math at various grade levels – something she continues to do through the academic year. In summary, I view Mariam as a key player in the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders – able to apply knowledge to needs with curiosity, compassion, and thoughtful leadership.
I first became involved with youth empowerment during my gap year. My first project was starting my high school’s first TED-Ed Student Club—part of TED-Ed's global youth empowerment program on personal communication. Through the club, I mentored 15 students on authenticity, leadership, and persuasive storytelling. The experience of mentoring while being mentored for personal development slowly started to reveal to me the importance of having the ability, especially as a young person, to hone one’s personal voice. This is an issue that I see as multi-faceted, intersecting with education, mental health, human rights work, and arts-engaged activism, and I have attempted to pursue it as such. For instance, I co-founded and ran a support group during my Freshman Spring that grappled with self-improvement, mental health, and personal empowerment in the context of the pandemic. Since then, I have also been a Lang Center Associate for Arts, Media, and Culture, in which I advise students on the pursuit of engaged scholarship, connecting academics and action in an intersectional way. Most recently, my intersectional interest in youth empowerment has grown to include human rights work and social/political advocacy, a development I hope to explore in the future.