Safiyah Ismail

The Pursuit of KnowledgeIMG_4943


Safiyah Ismail is a graduating senior from UNC-Chapel Hill. She studies Environmental Health Science and Engineering in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She currently serves as Executive Director of Students for Students International (S4SI), a nonprofit organization that funds educational scholarships for girls to pursue secondary school in Zanzibar. As a student in the Gillings School of Public Health and a passionate believer in S4SI’s mission, she believes that education is the key to a successful, healthy life for all.

During the summer of 2013, she traveled to Zanzibar to serve on the Scholar Selection Committee and is continually inspired by how passionate the S4Si Scholars are about education and becoming role models in their communities. Safiyah’s passion for education is evident both abroad and at home; during her sophomore year at UNC, she co-founded the UNC American Sign Language club, where she taught ASL classes to her peers in order to create a more inclusive Carolina. In 2014, she presented at TEDxUNC on the power of language in forming and mobilizing local and global communities. Her talk can be found here.

Safiyah is a Morehead-Cain Scholar and a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. In August, Safiyah will continue to fuel her passion for education as she teaches English as a Fulbright scholar in Indonesia. Following her Fulbright year, she plans to attend medical school to pursue a dual MD/MPH degree with an emphasis on global health.



“My favorite thing about teaching sign language is having my peers come in not knowing anything at all and having them leave at the end of the semester with a solid foundation of the basics. The ability to spread knowledge is often overlooked, and most certainly underappreciated. Think of the best teacher you had, and everything you learned because of how engaging and captivating they were. Learning and teaching and being knowledgeable about different things is, in itself, an act of worship.”






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