Lander University sophomore and Greenwood native Amira Abdelwahab is one of only 12 students from the state to be accepted into the South Carolina Washington Semester Program this year.
Through the program, which is organized by the University of South Carolina's Honors College, Abdelwahab and her fellow participants will spend a semester working and taking classes in Washington, DC.
For Abdelwahab, a political science major minoring in international studies, the Washington Semester Program is a milestone for her career plans in international diplomacy. "I specifically want to work as a diplomat specializing in Middle Eastern and U.S. relationships," she explained, "and through the Washington Semester Program, I'm confident that I will gain a solid foundation in U.S. customs and policies. That's important, because a large part of a diplomat's responsibilities is to portray their government to other governments."
A daughter of a Christian mother from Greenwood, S.C., and a Muslim father from Egypt who has since earned his U.S. citizenship, Abdelwahab has been able to gain an insightful perception of Middle Eastern society. Through multiple months-long visits to the area, her perspective on the region goes beyond hot-button issues often portrayed in U.S. headlines and newscasts.
"Amira has excelled academically and is distinguishing herself as a campus leader," said Dr. Lucas McMillan, dean of Lander's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and associate professor of political science. "Her goal of serving as a U.S. diplomat is being furthered by the opportunities that Lander can provide through its coursework, internship experiences, study abroad options and mentorship by professors. A semester in Washington, D.C. will allow Amira to see the policy-making processes up close and better prepare her for a career in government service."
Since graduating from Greenwood High School ranked among the top 13 percent in her class and being inducted into the National Honors Society and the Beta Club, Abdelwahab has continued her trek of accomplishment. A member of Lander's Honors College and vice president of the university's Political Science Association, she was named to the Dean's List during her freshman year.
A strong believer in service to her community, Abdelwahab serves each week as a tutor for elementary school children at Greenwood County Library and coaches boys' and girls' basketball for the Greenwood Parks & Recreational Center.
Lander students being prepared for and accepted into the Washington Semester Program has become somewhat of a tradition. Abdelwahab is the 15th student from Lander to be accepted since 2009. Lander alumni who have participated in this program have also been successful after graduation. One example is Ryan McNulty, a 2013 Lander graduate, who is currently in law school at Georgetown University in Washington.
"Acceptance into the Washington Semester Program is fierce and by merit only," said McMillan. "The fact that Amira is our 15th student to be accepted speaks volumes about our students and the preparation they receive from their Lander professors."