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Final Word Before USF Graduate Moves On

We first met University of South Florida student Noor Shakfeh after she spent her spring break in Syria helping at a refugee camp along the Turkish border almost two years ago.

Since then, the refugee population has exploded. Syria has grown even more dangerous. One of Shakfeh's cousins, Mazen Jasem Al Mahmoud, escaped Syria after being detained and tortured by the al-Assad government.

Yet, Shakfeh, an American of Syrian descent, still wants to return when it's safer.

Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
USF graduate Noor Shakfeh

Her volunteer work and ongoing efforts to raise donations for Syrian refugees earned Shakfeh praise from USF President Judy Genshaft along with five other top students at the December 2014 graduation ceremony.

Shakfeh was modest about the recognition when she talked with WUSF's Bobbie O'Brien in late December. She credits her professors and parents for her success.

She was focused on her next challenge, moving to Washington D.C. for a position with the American Society for Microbiology.

"I will be the newest global health diplomacy assistant at the American Society for Microbiology," Shakfeh said. "My job will be to assist the director of international development and relations in developing programs that promote health globally."

With all her outside activities, Shakfeh also earned two degrees in microbiology and in economics. Her next step, after six months at the ASM, she plans to seek a graduate degree in public health and eventually earn a medical degree, like her father.

Shakfeh's overall goal is to have the knowledge and experience to develop global standards that would help curtail epidemics in countries with poor or non-existent health care.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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