Program: Educational Culture, Policy and Society Program, PhD
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Awards: 2021 Drs. Henry J. and Bonita R. Durand Scholarship
... Now that I have all these opportunities presented to me, I have made it my mission to aim for the highest degree possible to counter my culture’s opinion on women’s education.
She is currently pursuing her PhD in educational culture, policy and society (ECPS) at UB, and was just awarded the Drs. Henry J. and Bonita R. Durand Scholarship (Durand Scholarship). Yet, one of the most incredible aspects of her educational journey is how it started.
Iftin was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, to parents who had fled civil war in Somalia. She and her family moved to the United States when she was eight years old, and have lived in Buffalo since 2011. Iftin attended Riverside High School, where she was actively involved in sports and a wide array of extracurriculars. Iftin came to UB for her undergrad degree, earning a bachelor’s in psychology and linguistics.
“As a refugee and a girl in my community, my educational opportunities were close to none. However, now that I have all these opportunities presented to me, I have made it my mission to aim for the highest degree possible to counter my culture’s opinion on women’s education. Furthermore, I want to make quality education accessible to women and children from impoverished areas.”
During her undergrad at UB, Iftin was a part of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP). This program works with talented students from underrepresented backgrounds who are pursuing careers in STEM, the licensed professions or health-related professions. Shanna Crump-Owens is the director of the CSTEP program and was one of the faculty members who encouraged Iftin to apply for the Durand Scholarship.
Crump-Owens describes Iftin as “persistent, hard-work, and seeking to expand her horizons.” She says that Iftin, like all the students she works with, “continue to make us proud and keep us on our toes.” When speaking about the Durand Scholarship itself, Crump-Owens emphasized the benefits that students receive from applying to funds such as this.
“Scholarships create a web of opportunities and confidence in a person. Any time you have to present yourself, you have to polish those materials that are related to you. It then makes you very ready to seize the next opportunity. Where readiness and preparedness meet opportunity, that is where really exceptional things happen.”