Mariya Ilyas ’13, of Alexandria, Va., has been awarded funding from the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace program for her project to start a high school newspaper at Al-Imtiaz Academy, a secondary school for working-class families in Abbottabad, a city in her native Pakistan, where she lived until she was eight.
Ilyas, double-majoring in government and legal studies and mathematics, and a sociology minor, says she wants to introduce to students journalism and the role of a free press in creating a peaceful society.
“Open riots and angry protests ensued after the recent murder of the Pakistani journalist Wali Khan Babar, who was killed in his attempt to get information out to the Pakistani people,” says Ilyas. “Babar’s death is a sad, yet powerful, reminder of how we heavily rely on journalists as crucial sources of information. Journalism is vital in ensuring peace for it not only guarantees access to information, but also allows for the dissemination of the truth.”
To launch her journalism program, Ilyas plans to purchase and donate laptops, cameras, a laser printer and other school supplies when she returns to Pakistan this summer.
Ilyas has worked at the academy before; having received a Preston Public Interest Grant, coordinated through Career Planning, Ilyas taught English and writing skills at the school last summer —and donated a laptop using funds from a mini-grant she received from Bowdoin.
Philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, on the occasion of her 100th birthday, established the program with a donation of one million dollars so that each of the projects will receive $10,000. Its objective is to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement their ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century.