Above: Abrar Founas, 22, in front of the Henry Ford Estate Fair Lane in Dearborn, Michigan.
Since she was 12 years old, Abrar Founas has been doing what she can to alleviate the burden of poverty in the world's poorest countries. Through Islamic Relief and other charitable organizations, she's helped raise money to fund an orphanage and school in Indonesia and has spearheaded efforts to raise nearly $500,000 to build a school, maternity clinic, and community center in rural Mali. In recognition of her work, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she's a 2010 graduate, named her one of 50 student "Difference Makers" who are making a difference now and have the potential to impact the region as future leaders.
A first-year student in health management and policy, Founas wants to combine her expertise in accounting (her undergrad major) with her long-standing interest in hospital organization. An internship last year with the School of Public Health's Summer Enrichment Program let her see how she could mold the two into a career. "At this point in time I'm trying to learn as much as possible," she says. "I'll start off in hospital administration and work with a great team, and eventually I'd like to focus on building and helping to improve health centers in low-income communities, both here in the States and overseas. I can do both, right?!
"One thing I've learned is that if you're trying to better a community—trying to improve the quality of life for anyone—it doesn't matter which community it is, whether they're Muslim or not. I was born and raised in Metro Detroit, and I would love to make an impact here, because we see so much need in this area."