By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Three high school seniors were honored March 22 by the American Association of University Women – Dearborn branch with the sixth annual Marge Powell Leadership Award, which recognizes her legacy.
Aliah Sareini of Dearborn High School, Miriam Mirani of Edsel Ford and Fatima Obeid of Fordson High School, nominated by school staff members for their leadership and integrity, received a framed certificate, a $300 honorarium and their name engraved on their high school’s perpetuity plaque.
The ceremony was held at Henry Ford Village, 15101 Ford Road, now home to Powell, who served Dearborn for decades as an educational, political and civic leader.
“Marge Powell exemplifies personal qualities that are important to successful leadership: compassion, patience and courage,” Valerie Murphy-Goodrich, AAUW-Dearborn branch president, said. “She was always judicious, impartial, fair and even courageous.”
AAUW member Anne Gautreau described Powell as an extraordinary community leader who shattered glass ceilings, and whose legacy the group is determined to honor.
“Marge Powell spent 35 years breaking barriers for all women who live in our community,” Gautreau said.
Powell was president of the Dearborn PTA council, a city councilwoman, and a member of the Dearborn Civil Service Commission, and served on advisory councils and committees.
Award recipients have demonstrated exceptional leadership potential, a commitment to service and exemplary integrity during their four years in high school.
Marini is a member of the National Honor Society and active with Key Club international, a Kiwanis high school student-led service program that fosters leadership, and Link Crew, a high school transition program for freshmen.
She also works with the Social Justice Club, which works for fair and just relationships for individuals in society, tutors elementary and high school students, is yearbook editor-in-chief and plays field hockey.
Marini is an Advanced Placement Scholar, a designation earned by receiving a score of 3 or higher on three or more College Board AP exams.
She hopes to attend Wayne State University and major in journalism or computer science, with a minor in women’s studies.
Marini said when she sees a cause that positively impacts the community, she wants to be part of the process.
“I strive to be the force behind the activities and programs which will positively affect the community, and consequently, the world,” Marini said.
One of her goals is to change the world and media’s perception of Muslims, and the message of Islam and of Arab Americans.
“I try to befriend people from different backgrounds, ethnicity and religions, then I slowly teach them about my religion and culture, which eventually alters their perception,” Marini said. “The media heavily influences people’s opinions, and by giving people first-hand contact with a marginalized group, I am able to give them a new opinion on Arab Americans.”
Marini said she gains inspiration not from those in power or with obvious influence, but from women who serve others.
“The ones who don’t act for attention or praise, but who affect those around them in small but significant ways inspires me to get out there and try to change the world,” Marini said.
Sareini, a four-year student council member, serves as president of her senior class, president of the Discover Islam club, and is a National Honor Society member.
She co-founded Gift of Education, an organization that provides free tutoring and mentorship to Dearborn youth.
“The goal is to give kids the extra push they need to reach their fullest potential,” Sareini said.
As a member of the Dearborn Youth Affairs Commission, she is a voice for her classmates.
“We promote unity between all three Dearborn high schools and strive to make positive changes in the community,” Sareini said.
She said she is inspired by her grandmother, Suzanne Sareini, who served for 24 years on the Dearborn City Council. Her father, Michael Sareini, was elected in 2013 to the council.
Aliah Sareini plans to study biochemistry at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she plans to conduct research on nutrition and its effect on the body.
She hopes to attend medical school at the University of Michigan to become an emergency room physician.
Sareini said she owes her success to her determination.
“I always strive to better myself,” she said. “We become successful when we live meaningful lives and serve those around us.”
Obeid is a member of the National Honor Society, an AP Scholar, and is active with Key Club International and Link Crew.
She volunteers with the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization that provides support for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and with the United Nations International Children’s Fund, which provides children and mothers with long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance in developing countries.
Obeid is a member of the Dearborn Youth Affairs Commission, volunteers with peer tutoring and mediation programs and with the Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.
She also volunteers at the John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit and Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, and hopes to become a pediatrician.
Following the award ceremony, AAUW branch secretary Sarah Lebrell urged the recipients to follow Nemo’s advice in the face of adversity and “just keep swimming,” while Murphy-Goodrich urged them to maintain the courage of their convictions.
Program vice president Ellen Judge-Gonzalez ended the evening with a toast to women in leadership roles.
“Here’s to strong women,” she said. “May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”