College student Raneem Qassem is this year’s recipient of the $2,500 Breathing for Tomorrow Scholarship. In her winning essay, Qassem discussed her family’s intimate relationship with lung health. Her father, a lung doctor, pleaded with his uncle to stop smoking cigarettes. Unfortunately, tragedy soon struck.
“[My grandparents] told us that my great uncle had lung cancer, and there was not much that could be done at that point,” Qassem wrote. “We were in America and they were still in Syria, and there was no way for us to fly down because of the war.”
On the back of losing her great-uncle, Qassem dedicated herself to promoting safe and healthy lifestyle choices.
Raneem Qassem’s Volunteer Work
In high school, Qassem joined her town’s Chairman and Mayor’s Youth Council and worked on implementing an initiative to reduce cigarette smoking and vaping. “After a few questions from aldermen, they all voiced their approval for our efforts, and promised to help put our plan into action,” Qassem wrote. After two years of work, she and her colleagues succeeded.
However, that is not the end of Raneem Qassem’s work to help others. An economics student at DePaul University, she serves on student government as the senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Studies. She is also a member of organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA) group.
In addition, Qassem volunteers with Amnesty International and in service projects at her local mosque in Rockford.
What the Future Holds for Qassem
As you can tell from her volunteer accolades, Raneem Qassem is not one to aim low. She has her sights set on lofty career goals, including law school and a later career in either international human rights or civil rights.
Afterward, Qassem said to Pintas & Mullins representatives, she might try her hand at politics.
“I also want to run for public office in the future,” she wrote, “implementing policies to help solve problems in this country. And who knows? Maybe I’ll even run for president someday.”