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Broderick-Evon Award Presented to Elementary Ed Major Eslam Abuhmad

Photo of Broderick Evon award winner Eslam Abuhmad (center) with President Broderick and his wife Kate.Broderick Evon award winner Eslam Abuhmad (center) with President Broderick and his wife Kate.

An award created by Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick and his wife, Kate, to recognize students who have given their time, knowledge and hearts to make the ODU community a better place has been presented to Eslam M. Abuhmad, a student whose passion for service was cultivated through her experiences as a teenager in Syria.

Abuhmad, a junior elementary education major with a grade point average of 3.47, received the second annual Broderick-Evon Award for Community Engagement and Service at the annual Student Honors and Awards Dinner on Thursday, May 9.

Abuhmad, who lives in Newport News, started volunteering as a sophomore in high school. She believes her community engagement both benefits her education and helps broaden her horizon.

Her educational journey, however, was interrupted several years ago. Abuhmad, who grew up in Newport News, was sent to Syria in the seventh grade to care for her grandmother. While there, she did not attend school for five years. Living in a country where education is only for men, she gained a newfound appreciation for what it means to have the opportunity to obtain an education. After returning to the United States, she took GED practice tests and scored high enough to be placed in the ninth grade. Abuhmad finished high school in three years, graduating with honors. She will be the first member of her family to graduate from college.

Abuhmad is active with Special Olympics as a softball and soccer coach, and accompanies teams each year to play in the Special Olympics Tournament in Bedford, Va. On campus, she is very involved in the Student Virginia Education Association, and helped plan and implement the Darden College of Education's STEM Day at ODU this semester, which included recruiting more than 100 4th-8th-grade students to participate in integrated, hands-on STEM activities.

As an expression of pride in the thousands of ODU students who have passionately given their time, knowledge and hearts to helping build the ODU community, the Broderick-Evon Award for Community Engagement and Service is of special significance to ODU's first family. It is named in honor of the mothers of John and Kate Broderick.

Kate Broderick told the audience of high-achieving students at the dinner that the annual prize is awarded to a student who displays commitment to service and civic engagement at the university and in the surrounding community through superior leadership and service. "We are both very proud of all of the students who have passionately given their time, knowledge and hearts to helping our community become a better place," she said.

Creating the Broderick-Evon Award builds on the foundation for student success that has been a chief goal of Broderick's since he became ODU's eighth president in 2008. Through family donations, it guarantees a minimum $3,000 award each year to an ODU student, or students, who embodies the community spirit of Ellen Broderick and Joan Evon.