A driven MTSU junior has been rewarded with a $3,000 scholarship by the Rutherford Cable organization.
Khadijah Alnassari of Nashville, Tennessee, received the Rutherford ATHENA award Friday, April 29, during a luncheon at Embassy Suites by Hilton Murfreesboro.
The organization also presented the ATHENA Award to Rev. Martha Toucton of Murfreesboro and ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award to Robin Seay of Murfreesboro. With 250 members, Rutherford Cable is a 10-year-old leadership organization for women’s professional advancement.
A biology and sociology double major, Alnassari plans to use the scholarship to pay tuition.
“I am honored to receive such a prestigious scholarship,” Alnassari said. “At the awards banquet, I had the privilege of meeting many strong, intelligent and determined women from all around the county.
“I think the best gift of all was the inspiration that they have given me. As an avid activist for women’s rights and inclusion, I was amazed to see how so many women came together to support and encourage one another. They truly are a force to be reckoned with. I hope someday that I can join their ranks and be an empowering role model for other young women.”
Alnassari’s back story
Alnassari, 39, had enrolled at MTSU as a freshman 21 years ago. A few weeks later, the events known collectively as “9/11” — the attacks by foreign terrorists on U.S. soil — led her to suspend her education following widespread Islamophobia — the dislike or prejudice against Islam or Muslims — after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In fall 2020, with the nation in the grips of the pandemic, she re-enrolled at MTSU, and 14-year-old triplets — son Ahmed and daughters Fatimah and Zaynab — began a dual enrollment pre-med pathway and joined her in the journey. The triplets, now 15 and about to graduate from Metro Nashville Public School’s Virtual School, will have enough credits to be juniors this fall.
It has been an eventful year for Alnassari, who has devoted herself to outreach, education and inclusion of Muslims at MTSU, and her children. She received the Student Organization President of the Year at MTSU Award. All four earned the National Women’s History Month Trailblazer Award for work on diversity and inclusion on campus.
Alnassari has been the lead on two MTSU research teams and president of Al-Wahda, a United Muslim Association, dedicated to the understanding and inclusion of Muslims on campus.
They also organized the first Festival of Veils March 19.
In addition to the ATHENA scholarship, she has received these scholarships for the fall 2022 semester: Business and Professional Women’s Scholarship; Mairia Clark Sociology Major Scholarship; James Tillman Sociology Major Scholarship; George Davis Biology Major Scholarship; and the Pre-Professional Tate Family Scholarship.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)