25 Apr 2017

Tailwind Scholarship Recipient Testimonial: Saadia Ahmed

April 25, 2017Testimonials
Name Saadia Ahmed
School UMass Boston
Degree Masters
Major Conflict Resolution
I am currently a graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where I focus on issues related to interfaith dialogue and relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. My thesis is focused on how Muslim leaders in America react and respond to acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam, which I hope will serve as a resource for non-Muslims as well as for Muslims to understand the complex reactions, responses, and reasonings that are involved with these issues. I have written a number of articles on these issues, which have been published in The Boston Globe, America Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Richmond Times.

The interfaith journey I pursued as a Muslim at a Catholic college is the foundation for my career of facilitating dialogue, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding between religious lines and more generally between different groups. I immersed myself into the religion by regularly attending worship services, serving on the Campus Ministry Pastoral Council, and building relationships with Catholic priests who continue to be sources of spiritual support today. My Islamic faith deepened and sophisticated in new ways that had been inaccessible when limited to just a single tradition, and I began introducing and facilitating more positive, pluralistic, and effective ways of engaging with “the other.” As someone who draws and benefits from both Islam and Catholicism, I am troubled by conflict among members of the world’s religions, when instead there is such potential for personal growth through dialogue and worldwide betterment through collaboration. The contrast between my positive interfaith experience and the prominence of conflict between different identity groups inspired my career of bridgebuilding and conflict resolution.

As a source of significant financial support and helping to relieve the constraints and inhibitions that financial situations can cause and thus impede on learning and professional development, the Tailwind Scholarship has been central to helping me focus and delve deeply into learning about and mastering both the academic theories and the practical applications of my Conflict Resolution degree. More importantly, having the moral support of a scholarship that aims to support young students and adults in positively impacting the American Muslim community in the near and far future, especially given the myriad of challenges and hardships from this election season and its results, has been a source of ongoing encouragement and motivation to battle through difficulties and challenges that arise. To be the recipient of a significant scholarship that shares the values that fuel my motivation and work is a deep compliment and encouragement for me. I know that having the financial and moral support from Tailwind Scholarships will be important for me in the coming months and years, as I complete my graduate school education and training, and take my next steps in my career of interfaith dialogue and religious conflict resolution.