COD Student Samiha Syed Named to All-USA Academic Team

Award Recognizes Intellectual Achievement, Leadership, and Community and Campus Engagement

Glen Ellyn, Ill., March 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- College of DuPage student Samiha Syed is among 20 community college students nationwide named to the All-USA Academic Team sponsored by Cengage, with additional support from the American Association of Community Colleges and the Phi Theta Kappa national honor society. Selected from more than 2,000 students nominated, Syed will receive a $5,000 scholarship and will be recognized during the American Association of Community Colleges’ virtual convention in May.

The All-USA program is recognized as one of the most prestigious academic honors for students attending associate degree-granting institutions. Team members were selected for their outstanding intellectual achievement, community and campus engagement, and leadership.

Syed said she is humbled to be selected for the team.

“I am filled with gratitude for this opportunity to represent COD and to share just how empowering the College community is,” she said. “It is empowering in that everyone at COD has been a hero to me. They have all inspired me deeply. My experience at COD has bequeathed me with the legacy of servant leadership, which I aspire to carry on as I’ve seen epitomized in everyone I have come across at COD.”

COD President Dr. Brian Caputo said he is pleased to see Syed’s hard work and dedication recognized.

“Samiha has shown an incredible commitment to achieving academic excellence and community engagement while demonstrating strong leadership abilities,” he said. “I am proud of her accomplishments as a student at COD and thrilled that she will represent COD on the All-USA Academic Team.”

As student trustee on the College’s Board of Trustees and as a member of the College’s Student Leadership Council, Syed has distinguished herself through academic achievement and a commitment to service. She currently serves as vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society, president of the College’s Future Physicians and Research Scientists Club, and executive vice president of the College’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. She also is a member of COD’s Equity and Access Team, serving on the diversity, equity and inclusion subcommittee.

Committed to engendering a sense of community at the College, in February 2020 Syed created Chaps Unite, an initiative designed to foster greater student involvement on campus. At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, she launched a virtual Chaps Unite campaign that grew into the campus-wide #ChapsUnite movement, designed to provide support to students and the College community in the face of the pandemic.

As a Student Leadership Council member, Syed helped organize several diversity, equity and inclusion events including the campus-wide Chaps Unite Against Racism initiative. As a participant in the College’s Living Leadership program, she invested more than 200 volunteer hours as coordinator of a College blood drive and worked on an initiative designed to provide free health screenings on campus to uninsured students and members of the community.

For Syed, the benefits of engaging with the College community outside the classroom are many.

“The activities and service I participated in COD have become some of the most treasured experiences of my life,” she said. “These activities can help students to find a place to help others and learn more about who they are, what motivates them and where they’d like to be in life. My participation in the College community has taught me about my own capacity to make a positive impact and achieve for the greater good.”

Syed’s work on COD’s campus and beyond hasn’t gone unnoticed. She is a 2020 Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate and was the only community college student in the state to receive the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award. She also is the College’s first "Diversity Champion,” selected by COD’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In addition, she is recipient of a 2021 Phi Theta Kappa New Century Pathway Scholar award, which provides a scholarship to top scoring All-USA Team Members of each state, the STEM Success Scholarship awarded by the National Science Foundation, the Coca-Cola Leader of Promise Scholarship and a COD Student Life Leadership Award Scholarship.    

An active volunteer in her community, she is recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Achievement Award administered by Americorps. Syed also volunteered more than 500 hours tutoring, mentoring and organizing model United Nations, speech and debate programs for refugee children.

Set to graduate from COD in May 2021 with an Associate in Science degree, Syed plans to earn her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at University of Illinois at Chicago before pursuing a medical degree as well as a doctorate in chemistry.

Describing her experiences at COD as “transformational,” Syed said she can see herself on a path toward a career in higher education.

“At COD, I have come to realize my abundant passion for student life, student affairs and public administration,” she said. “I feel myself and my trajectory forever changed. The academic study of leadership and practice of servant leadership have become part of who I am. My most keen interests, discovered over this past year, span areas of civic and community engagement and include activism and academic research to identify solutions to problems. I also am interested in transformative change, policy and governance, as well as non-profit work.”

Syed said her All-USA Academic Team distinction is a direct result of her experiences as a student at COD.

“This honor speaks volumes about the COD community and how COD supports all students in every possible way,” she said. “My ‘why’ is intricately linked to the College as COD inspired in me a devotion to serve our community and taught me that achievement means to be a servant leader, forging a brighter tomorrow for others by making a positive impact. I believe this shines through in every student leader at COD.”



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