Zaynab Abdi

St. Catherine University

Not only does Zaynab live out our University's vision of "educating women to lead and influence" and has taken on many leadership roles at St. Catherine University, she has also already practiced public leadership in the broader context as well, in Minnesota and throughout the country, in an effort to bring about positive change. And while Zaynab's advocacy work profoundly affects people, she is well versed in humility and in the power of collective action. Zaynab is a collaborative leader and a great role model, a strong woman of color and a fierce advocate for women, girls and refugees; she is smart and determined to make this world a better place. She is an exceptional critical thinker with a strong work ethic and determination to bring her ideas to fruition.
What a gift Zaynb has been to our entire St. Kate's community, and Green Card Voices, the Malala Fund and all those touched by her speaking engagements. Her cultural competence, compassion, engaging personality, approachability, persistence, professionalism, authenticity, collaboration skills, curiosity, genuine care, and lived experience as a refugee will serve her well in meeting the goals of this fellowship. Zaynab is well deserving of this honor.

ReBecca Koenig Roloff
St. Catherine University

Personal Statement

Living in Yemen, at a very young age I saw injustice and inequality in my community and I became deeply passionate about creating positive change. At St. Catherine University, I am the student coordinator for Civic Engagement Collective working on voter access and education. As someone who can't vote yet, I want everyone to understand the privilege of the right to vote. As a Student Senate Chair, I work to make sure everyone's voices are heard; I advocate with the goal of bringing faculty, staff, and students together. I believe in St. Kate's values and the values of our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, to create a community that strives for social justice. Nationally, I work with Green Card Voices to educate communities about the refugee experience through storytelling, building bridges through group discussions. With the Minnesota Peace Project, I present issues to Congress to mobilize for change, focusing on Yemen because I was raised there and understand the effect of war on the people. Globally, through the Malala Fund, I am an advocate for girls' education, sharing my story to stress the importance of girls' education, at the United Nations, UNICEF and many other places.

Zaynab Abdi
Political Science, International Relations, Philosophy : Class of 2020
written 2019

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