ICM student to be honored at White House today

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Today is a special day for Lipscomb student Kasar Abdulla.

While the rest of the university campus continues about its daily activity today, Abdulla, a graduate student in Lipscomb University’s Institute for Conflict Management, is being honored by President Barack Obama.

Abdulla, a native of Kurdistan, is being recognized for her work to convene interfaith dialogue and conversations of significance about immigration issues through the White House’s Champions of Change program. The program recognizes “every day Americans who are making positive changes in their communities,” according to the White House website. Each week, a group of individuals selected as Champions of Change are invited to the White House to share their ideas.

Abdulla will be honored in a special ceremony today, Sept. 19, from noon-2 p.m. CST. Click here to watch live.

“I’m very thankful to God for giving me strength and lived experiences, to my amazing daughters for putting a smile on my face, to my compassionate husband for supporting me, and to my wonderful Tennessean mentors, teachers and friends who continue to support me,” said Abdulla. “I will humbly accept this recognition on behalf of all the Tennesseans who work hard day and night in creating strong, welcoming communities in our dynamic state.”

When former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein waged war on the region in 1988, Abdulla lost several family members and she was forced to become a refugee. Abdulla and her family lived in the refugee camp in Meriden, Turkey, until September 1992, when her family was brought to America.

Abdulla has an undergraduate degree from Tennessee State University with bachelor's degree in sociology in 2005. She has participated in many interfaith dialogues and has presented on her experience as a refugee. She serves on a number of boards and works with a variety of organizations to encourage dialogue.

Abdulla chose to continue her studies in Lipscomb’s conflict management program.

"Kasar is an engaged student and we are convinced she will continue to lead nationally and internationally,” said Steve Joiner, Institute for Conflict Management managing director.

"We were thrilled to have Kasar consider our program this year for her graduate work. She already had credibility and proven leadership in this community,” said Beth Morrow, institute assistant director. “The Institute for Conflict Management at Lipscomb was a perfect fit for her goals of deepening her understanding of conflict from an academic perspective as well as forming an advanced skill set for strategically handling situations now and in her future work.”

According to the Champions of Change website, Abdulla has made a tremendous impact on communities throughout Tennessee as an educator, advocate, organizer and facilitator of issues concerning new Americans and receiving community members. One of the founding members of the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative, the model for all subsequent welcoming initiatives, Abdulla continues to cultivate an environment for community members to address difficult issues such as immigration and religious understanding through dialogue in order to build strong communities and lift up diversity as one of Tennessee’s greatest strengths.”

Abdulla said she plans to return to Nashville Thursday evening in time to attend her graduate class at Lipscomb on Friday.