Widener University names President’s Award winner
Iman Elkhashab will graduate with degrees in French and biology.
Widener University congratulates undergraduate Iman Elkhashab of Broomall, Pennsylvania, winner of the 2019 President’s Award. The honor is given annually to the graduating senior who has contributed the most to campus life through scholarship and participation in extracurricular activities.
Elkhashab will speak at the university commencement ceremony on Friday, May 17.
“I am very excited to graduate and excited to start a new chapter of life. Widener has given me so much. I will keep all of the knowledge I’ve been given and use it in the next chapter,” said Elkhashab, a dual major who will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in French. She minored in chemistry and aspires to be a practicing physician focused on public and global health, dedicated to increasing accessibility to quality health care around the world.
Elkhashab’s extraordinary personal story stretches from the United States, where she was born, to Egypt, where she lived from the age of four until the time of the Egyptian Revolution, when her family returned to the United States and she began sophomore year at Marple Newtown High School. Fluent in English, Arabic and French, she worked to assimilate to American culture as a teen and developed into a school leader who arrived at Widener as an Apogee Scholar. That classification is given to students whose leadership and service in high school resulted in their selection as Widener/NBC10 High School Leadership Award winners.
At Widener, Elkhashab quickly learned about opportunities to do research alongside professors Janice Krumm and Stephanie Schechner, and began a journey of research projects spanning all four years of her undergraduate education. She worked on faculty projects and on her own projects with faculty supervision, taking on multiple biology studies that looked at everything from fungal interactions to exotic water hyacinths in Louisiana swamps to insects at Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester, Pennsylvania. She presented her work on multiple occasions at Widener, and at events in Maryland, Illinois, and The Netherlands.
Along the way she also served in the Presidential Service Corps/Bonner Leader Program, where she completed 1,200 hours of community service during her undergraduate years. That public service commitment included working at Lifewerks Food Pantry, serving as an election official in Marple Township, Delaware County, doing crop analysis and other work at the community farm, and volunteering at an orphanage and middle school in Honduras and Costa Rica.
The Boston-based nonprofit Campus Compact recognized her as a Newman Civic Fellow in her sophomore year. The national award honors inspiring college student leaders who have worked to find solutions for challenges facing their communities.
Elkhashab has been active in multiple student organizations, from French Club and Amnesty International to representing Widener at the international Collegiate Leadership Competition, where she was named team MVP. She started the Student Sustainability Committee and was active in Alpha Omega Epsilon, the women’s sorority in engineering and technical sciences. Throughout her entire undergraduate career she worked jobs in the university’s Office of Civic Engagement and at Salam Travel Agency in Philadelphia.
She credits her family for instilling in her the value of persevering when schoolwork and other demands left her tired and questioning whether she could succeed. “You gain a new level of success because you’re able to push through it,” she said, noting that message will likely come through in her remarks to the graduates.
“Iman Elkhashab is a remarkable young woman with incredible determination,” Widener President Julie E. Wollman said. “Her goals include addressing global challenges in healthcare and her next step – medical school – will help her to achieve that aspiration. I am proud that Widener University has played a part in preparing her for the bright future that awaits, and I look forward to watching her make her mark on the world.”