First Bilal ibn Rabah Scholarship Dinner held this past Friday

The inaugural Bilal ibn Rabah Scholarship Dinner was held this past Friday night at the King Alumni House.

A crowd of roughly 115 came to support the scholarship, which promotes UK’s strategic vision of diversity and inclusion.

In order to obtain the educational benefits of a diverse student body, the University will aggressively admit and retain students from all segments of society including students of different races, ethnicities, socioeconomic status, sexes, sexual orientation, gender identities, disability status, religious traditions, political beliefs, and geographic backgrounds. Factors that are considered in the holistic evaluation of applicants include contribution to diversity, test scores, grades, essay, leadership experience, extracurricular activities, awards and recognition, and community service. Awards will be based on the applicant’s ranking within the competitive pool, with values varying based on meritorious criteria.

The name of this scholarship reflects the spirit of perseverance and determination to face and overcome any adversity in life. Bilal ibn Rabah embodies all of these characteristics and more. Therefore, this scholarship has been established to reward deserving students who have overcome a variety of adversities, or are inspired by the story of Bilal and see themselves standing for justice and equality in the same manner that he did, and have the desire to pursue their academic and life goals at the UK.

The Bilal ibn Rabah Scholarship is reflective of civic engagement and community service. All awardees will have the opportunity to participate in various civic engagement options including UK Center for Community Outreach, UK Wildcat Ambassador Program, UK Center for Student Philanthropy, UK Student Government Association and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Offices.

The new scholarship was founded and administered by UK political science and Arabic and Islamic studies senior Hadeel Abdallah.

According to an article from UK Public Relations, the idea for the scholarship initiative stems from Abdallah’s experience as a Gaines Fellow.

“My junior year in the Gaines program we had to come up with a jury project that helped our community in some way,” Abdallah said. “During that same time, I was also doing an internship with Vice Mayor Steve Kay and in that internship we discussed the need to bring the immigrant and refugee community together and help integrate them a little more in Lexington and get them more civically engaged. So, the idea of the scholarship was not only to provide a source of financial help…it was also to build fellowship and friendship between these different parts of the community.”

Abdallah was honored at the dinner when Lexington Mayor Jim Gray proclaimed Nov. 30 as Hadeel Abdallah Day in Lexington, Kentucky. Abdallah was named UK’s first female and the 10th UK student named a Rhodes Scholar, the last being selected in 1955.

UK Assistant Vice President for Philanthropy Don Witt, who also helps administer the program, calls the initiative historic for both campus and the greater Lexington community.

“The Bilal ibn Rabah Scholarship is a reflection of rewarding students who have worked hard to overcome various obstacles to achieve their academic and life goals – and to address the financial constraints of obtaining a degree,” Witt said. “In addition, this scholarship is a true collaboration of multiple entities coming together – UK, the Muslim community, and the City of Lexington to enhance and embrace open dialogue and understanding of various cultures, faiths, and philanthropy – all leading to the common goal of supporting the humanitarian spirit.”

The Bilal Scholarship helps support the UK LEADS initiative, which addresses unmet financial need, and is part of the university’s philanthropy campaign, Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign.

“The Bilal ibn Scholarship mirrors our efforts to support a rich tapestry of diversity, inclusion, respect and belonging on our campus,” UK president Eli Capilouto said. “And, like all scholarships, it will support young men and women on their path to leave the world a better place than they found it. That’s why we are here.”

Please enjoy some photos from Friday’s event. A full gallery from the dinner can seen by clicking here.

Note: Some information for this post provided from UK Public Relations


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