Partnership Feature: Usama Abbasi, ACT Fellow

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Usama Abbasi may be a student himself, but in the months that he has been working as a volunteer for Ed’s ACT Fellows program, he has demonstrated a commitment to improving educational opportunities for others, too.  A member of the University Honors Program at University of Alabama at Birmingham, Usama graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in 2010 as part of the Mathematics and Sciences Department.  At UAB, he is currently pursuing a dual bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and in English Literature, with minors in Biology and Physics.

“I volunteer for a number of reasons, but mostly because I love the sense of community one gains by volunteering,” Usama says.  “Birmingham is my home; this city has given me a lot and has helped me grow and succeed in many personal, educational and professional ways. It makes me feel really good to be able to do something for this city in return.”

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Usama’s first encounter with Ed was as a member of Take CHARGE (College Help and Resources Geared Towards Everyone), a student organisation started at UAB by UHP members Tooba Anwer and Farah Khan.  Take CHARGE operated at Parker High School during 2012-2013, and Ed and Anwar worked together to restructure the program to fit the needs of BCS students, specifically by fitting the curriculum into the school day and scaffolding other programs around it as part of the College Prep Institute.  In addition to being an ACT Fellows instructor, Usama also helps Ed program specialist Daniel Ross with the creation and evaluation of ACT Prep materials.

A recent high-school graduate himself, Usama knows the importance of performing well on standardized tests, and it is this knowledge that drives his participation in the ACT Fellows program.  “I know exactly how important the ACT is in a young student’s life,” he says. “Because of the excellent guidance I received in high school, I was able to use the ACT as a tool to open doors for me in college. I want the students with whom we work at BEF to be able to do the same.”

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In addition to his work at Ed, Usama has also contributed to the efforts of organizations such as the Red Crescent Clinic of Alabama (RCCA) and the Birmingham Crisis Centre.  “I really enjoy the opportunity to talk to people,” Usama says, “So I have sought out volunteer experiences in which I can do just that.”

Usama will graduate in April 2014, and at Ed, we will be sad to see him go, but wish him continued success in academics and life, as he pursues an MD.  In the meantime, if you are interested in volunteering with any of our programs, fill out the inquiry form here.  We think it’s a great opportunity, but you don’t have to take our word for it: as Usama says, “ To anyone considering becoming involved with our schools, let me be a loud voice of encouragement: we would love your participation (and we suspect you would have a lot of fun too).”

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