Enas Elmohands finds abundant support and great success in combining a passion for human rights and love of the arts.
One of the first questions a college student is asked is how they chose their university. Senior Enas Elmohands chose Adelphi University the same way she decides upon mostly everything in life—it felt right.
She knew she’d made the right decision after the welcome she received in the Honors College from Dean Richard Garner, associate deans and professors. “I felt the classrooms were ideal for engagement, which I believe is the point of education,” Ms. Elmohands said. “Students should be learning to engage with their peers and the world they live in. This is what lured me to Adelphi.”
When she first arrived, Ms. Elmohands found it hard to narrow down her interests; she wanted to learn everything from physics to history. Knowing that was not practical, she realized the one constant in her passion for learning was to use whatever her interests were to empower others. This took shape while she was taking a peace studies course.
Being of Egyptian descent, Ms. Elmohands was sensitive to the global unrest that was springing up, specifically in the Middle East. She explained, “I realized I wanted to study human rights, but that it was not offered as a major or a program—so I created one.”
Ms. Elmohands is part of a unique program at Adelphi, the interdisciplinary studies major. In this nontraditional undertaking, students combine studies from two or more departments to create a one-of-a-kind major, and meet regularly with a committee of advisers to track their progress. Ms. Elmohands’ program consists of courses based on the concept of human rights. According to Ruth McShane, Ph.D., administrator of the interdisciplinary studies program, a student can apply for entrance into this major before their fifth semester. “Students must be extremely driven and capable of working independently to be successful—at most we have a handful each year that pursue the program,” Dr. McShane said.
It’s that drive and independence that have also allowed Ms. Elmohands to delve into the world of slam poetry and hip-hop. “That’s when I began to realize the connection between my art and the rights of people,” she said. She could use her work as a way to share stories about global struggles around the world, making sure the efforts of others were not forgotten.
Ms. Elmohand’s passion to link human rights and the arts has led to her involvement with the nonprofits ARTifariti and ArtsAction. Her research and outreach with these groups focus on the power of art in catalyzing change. One such project, based in Kosovo, teaches young people to use animation/media arts as a means for economic growth. She has worked with Devin Thornburg, Ph.D., professor of education, and Cindy Maguire, Ph.D., assistant professor of art education, researching human rights in the Western Sahara. Partnering with ArtsAction’s Tiffanie Ord and with Mohamed Sulaiman, a young activist from the refugee camps, they are working on a website to collect arts-based initiatives and research databases that will open dialogue and participation, as well as provide crucial resources for policy makers and activists. “Ms. Elmohands is an incredibly smart, talented young woman,” said Dr. Maguire. “She is proactive and sincerely committed to human rights and social justice around the world.”
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