Wiam Jasim left her war-torn home in 2005 when attending class at Baghdad University became too dangerous.
Jasim could speak only some English when she arrived in the United States. But by fall 2006, she was enrolled as a graduate instructor in the mathematics department at UNT.
Jasim was recently named a P.E.O. International Peace Scholar and will receive a $10,000 scholarship to help subsidize her education. The scholarships are designed for international women pursuing their education in the United States who stand to have a positive social impact upon returning to their native countries.
"The situation back home is very difficult, and Iraq's faithful people will need to rebuild. I hope that by advancing the methods of teaching I can be part of the rebuilding," Jasim says. "I love teaching and being with the students. So many people feel like math is a hard subject. Simplifying it for students is a joy and an interest for me."
Jasim says math textbooks are more reader-friendly and dynamic in the United States than in Iraq, and she hopes to take those ideas back to Iraq after she graduates from UNT in 2011.
"The books here help you see how math is related to the real world," Jasim says. "That's important in trying to teach math to students."
Jasim is one of two UNT students with a scholarship from P.E.O. (Philanthropic Education Organization) International. Charis Wong, who is from Malaysia, had her scholarship renewed this year and is now pursuing a graduate certificate in child/play therapy. Wong, who received the initial scholarship in 2007, says she would like to return to Malaysia as a marriage and family counselor.
James Duban, director of UNT's Office for Nationally Competitive Scholarships, says, "I join the UNT community in celebrating the added distinction that Wiam and Charis have brought to themselves and our campus through their PEO International Peace Scholarships. They are both destined to make immense contributions to their home countries, and we can take immense satisfaction in the fact that they have prepared to do so at UNT."
Founded in 1869, P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization for women with almost 250,000 members in chapters in the United States and Canada. P.E.O. educates women by providing scholarships, grants, awards and loans.
Sarah Bahari with UNT News Service can be reached at Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org.