News of the achievements of local students and members of the Armed Forces.
•• Frank Macchiarola of McLean has been inducted into the University of Texas at Austin chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi all-discippline honor society.
• Anton Kopti II of McLean was among members of the Oratorio Choir at Bridgewater College that performed works by Eriks Esenvalds and John Rutter during a Nov. 11 concert at the college.
Kopti is a computer-science major.
•• Forty Fairfax County public schools have been recognized by the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children as 2022 “Purple Star Schools.”
The designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated their commitment to meeting the needs of military-connected students and their families.
“This is an honor for FCPS, our first-time Purple Star schools and those who continue to be recognized year over year,” Fairfax Superintendent Michelle Reid said. “I commend our school and division staff for everything they continue to do to support the complex needs of our military-related students and families. We are committed to making sure each student feels a sense of belonging as they pursue their educational journey.”
Within the Sun Gazette coverage area, Kent Gardens Elementary School and Stenwood Elementary School were named Purple Star Schools for the first time, and Longfellow Middle School and Mosaic Elementary School have now won the designation two times.
This is the fifth year VDOE and the Virginia Council have designated Purple Star schools. The Purple Star schools retain the designation for three years before being required to reapply.
To qualify for a Purple Star, schools must have a staff member designated as the point of contact for military students and families who serves as the primary link between the military family and the school. Schools also must demonstrate their commitment to meeting the needs of military students by providing resources and programming on issues important to military families, such as academic planning and transitions between schools, districts and states.
•• George Mason University has announced a $3 million gift to its Center for Global Islamic Studies, which will be renamed the AbuSulayman Center for Global Islamic Studies in recognition of the donation.
The commitment was made by the Mirza Family Foundation, headed by Yaqub Mirza, a current member of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Dean’s Advisory Board and a former George Mason University Foundation trustee. The AbuSulayman Center for Global Islamic Studies is housed within CHSS.
“This gift helps solidify the center’s position as a global resource for the study of Islam. This will advance scholarship and the public’s understanding of this global religion that touches so many,” Mason president Gregory Washington said at the event announcing the gift. “The center and its relationship with the Mirza Foundation is a testament to Mason’s commitment to diversity of thought and its growing reputation in Islamic Studies globally.”
Abdul Hamid AbuSulayman, who died in August 2021, was an early advocate for the study of Islam from a global perspective. Called “a giant among giants” by Mirza at the celebration, AbuSulayman’s doctoral thesis, “Towards an Islamic Theory of International Relations,” published in 1993, was seen as revolutionary in its counter to a traditional, Eurocentric view of the field, which had often overlooked the impact of Muslim countries and cultures.
AbuSulayman was chairman of the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon. The organization is a hub for scholarship and research that advances education in Muslim societies.
“This partnership with the Mirza and AbuSulayman families will propel and expand the impact of the center’s work, and we are immensely grateful for this new philanthropic collaboration,” said CHSS dean Ann Ardis. “The collaboration underscores what is at the heart of the center – faculty from many different disciplines focusing on Muslim communities and their connection to each other around the world.”
The center is already exploring connections with centers in Malaysia, Indonesia, Bosnia and South Africa.
The AbuSulayman family has close connections to Mason. Several other AbuSulayman family members are studying at or have graduated from the institution, and Abdul Hamid AbuSulayman’s daughter, Muna AbuSulayman, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, was honored as one of 50 high-achieving alumni at the Alumni Association’s 50th anniversary celebration.
•• The Support Our Aging Religious (SOAR!) organization has honored Marymount University president Irma Becerra with its prestigious 2022 Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for her dedicated work at the university and throughout her career in higher education.
The award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves through their leadership and generosity in the Catholic community, in the spirit of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton herself. The awards ceremony was held Nov. 3 at a gala dinner at the Embassy of Italy.
Becerra becomes the second figure in Marymount history to receive the award, following Sister Majella Berg, the institution’s longest-serving president who led the university from 1960-93 and received the award in 1991.
“I am so honored and humbled,” Becerra said. “It means so much to know that Sister Majella Berg, the third president of Marymount University and someone who has inspired me and was so truly transformational for our institution during her 30-plus year tenure, received this honor as well.”
Sister Maria Timoney, a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM) order of nuns that founded the university in 1950 and a university trustee herself, presented the award to Becerra and remarked on the university’s core values of intellectual curiosity, service to others and