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Abdirizak Jama, Student Interfaith Scholar

Abdirizak Jama is a double major in chemistry and peace studies at Saint John’s University. Born in Somalia, he and his family fled the country due to the civil war and settled in a refugee camp in Kenya for six years before resettling in the United States in 2010. Abdirizak attended St. Cloud Technical High School, where he became actively involved in community service. After graduating from high school he helped to create a conflict resolution program, which later won the Partners in Education Award from School District 742. He has continued his community service during his time at Saint John's, where in April 2016 he was presented with a Caritas Man of Extraordinary Service award. An active participant and presenter in interfaith programs sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center over the past two years, he now has an internship with the center as a student scholar and program coordinator. Abdirizak draws his values of respect and compassion from his commitment to Islam. “Islam has always shined light in my heart,” says Abdirizak. “I am deeply grateful to my parents for the amazing upbringing they provided me. They have instilled in me a strong appreciation and commitment to Islam while also teaching me to respect people of other faiths.” According to Abdirizak, “the Prophet Muhammed’s fruitful encounters with the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] are a source of inspiration for my interfaith work.” Convinced that “faith is embedded in the fabric of our societies,” Abdirizak asserts that “if we want peaceful tomorrows, then we will all have to work for interfaith understanding and cooperation.”