Hunter College student Faiza Masood, Class of 2017, has been selected as a recipient of one of the most prestigious academic honors, the Marshall Scholarship. She is one of only two students in New York State to receive the Marshall this year, and the first from Hunter College. The Marshall Scholarship, which provides for graduate study at a United Kingdom institution in any field of study, is awarded to up to 40 students a year and is often compared to the Rhodes Scholarship. The other winner selected from a New York school this year attends West Point.
The Marshall Scholarship is one of the most prominent of nationally competitive post-baccalaureate scholarships. Typically, more than 800 seniors in the United States apply each year.
City University of New York Chancellor James B. Milliken said, “We are immensely proud of Faiza Masood’s well-deserved achievement. This is a testament to her talent, drive and hard work, as well as to the quality of her education at Hunter College. Faiza, like so many students at Hunter and CUNY, is the children of immigrants and an example of the gifts they bring to our campuses. She is the seventh CUNY student to be awarded this great honor. Immigrants and their families have always been among our most outstanding students and they go on to make great contributions to New York. I’m sure Faiza will do the same.”
“We are so proud of Faiza and very pleased that her hard work both in and out of the classroom is being recognized by this prestigious program,” said Jennifer Raab, president of Hunter College. “In Arabic, Faiza means winner, and Faiza certainly is one.”
The latest Marshall Scholarship adds to the impressive achievements of CUNY’s award-winning students and alumni. Their awards also include seven Rhodes Scholarships, dozens of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships and, in the past two years, 39 Fulbright Fellowships to conduct research or teach abroad.
According to Raab, Hunter now has an office modeled after those at other top universities that will guide deserving students through the top graduate scholarship application process. “We believe there will be many more Hunter students receiving these awards in the near future,” said Raab.
At Hunter College, Masood majors in religion in the Special Honors Program with minors in Arabic Studies and Asian-American Studies. She already won summer fellowships to study Arabic, which is not her native language, in Jordan and Morocco.
In the fall of 2015 she was chosen to attend the Harvard Divinity School’s Diversity and Explorations Program. The Marshall will enable her to earn a master’s degree at one of the British universities.
Masood plans on focusing her studies on Islamic Law to ensure it is flexible and adapted to modern societies. The fact that it has changed with the times gives her reason to believe it can keep evolving. “It is very much time for Islamic scholars interpreting sources to come up with new law that is appropriate for this new modern context,” said Masood.
Masood’s parents immigrated to New York from Pakistan and have worked hard to provide for their family. Her father worked in candy stores for most of her life and her mother is a homemaker. They have never taken a vacation, focusing instead on saving for their children’s education. Masood attended a small religious school in Queens with 10 girls in her graduating class. She has three older sisters, including one, Hajara, who is also studying religion at Hunter.
When Masood got the call that she had been named a Marshall Scholar, she was in the middle of planning an event for the Interfaith Club she started at Hunter.
She hopes to go on to get a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies and return to teach “in a public institution like Hunter” because education is what changed her own life.
The Marshall Scholarship, founded in 1953 by an Act of Parliament in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, commemorates the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan. The scholarship expresses the continuing gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts.
Marshall Scholars receive funding for one or two years of graduate studies as well as an annual book grant, thesis grant and a research and daily travel grant. In addition, they receive money for university fees, cost-of-living expenses and fares to and from the United States.
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY School of Medicine, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 274,350 degree-seeking students and 260,000 adult and continuing education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.