A part of Nueces Mosque since her freshmen year on campus, Mahera Badat, a third-year student at The University of Texas at Austin, has organized various interfaith dinners that allow Muslim students and local community members to engage in discussions about various topics, including religion and incidents of Islamophobia. With an outstanding reputation as a researcher and organizer, Mahera has been invited to speak to numerous faith gatherings, including the United Methodist Church and The Church of Latter-Day Saints, and at Jewish and Muslim interfaith gatherings at a Houston mosque. Moreover, she has served as a Gateway Program mentor for three years and has led discussions with UT Austin’s Gateway students about the experience of being a Muslim woman on our campus. I have no doubt that Mahera will continue to be a civically engaged leader who strives to create a more just society through her work on interfaith issues.
The Newman Civic Fellowship will allow me to enhance my knowledge and skills on how to better engage my university campus toward civic and social issues that relate to us all. I believe the fellowship will create a way for me to improve my leadership skills and teach me to how to properly pursue my interest in bringing awareness and finding solutions to the social issue of Islamophobia. Under the fellowship, I believe that working on this social issue and others will prepare me for long-term problem solving skills and prepare me for graduate school. The fellowship will allow me to experience what graduate school will be like and be a great way for me to start preparing a research project. I hope to attain a Ph.D. in Social Work and create a non-profit that serves the need of the community while bringing awareness on Islamophobia. With the fellowship, I will learn strategic ways on how I can carry out this goal and combat Islamophobia. I strongly believe I will be a good representative of the fellowship by upholding all the principles and values Frank Newman stood for and contributing a new set of ideas and skills to the fellowship.