Release Date: 
Friday, August 7, 2020

HawkPride: HFC student recognized with Marge Powell Leadership Award

Leyal Almaklani has been very active in her community. This fall, she'll attend Wayne State University. She aspires to study law at UCLA.
Leyal Almaklani has been very active in her community. This fall, she'll attend Wayne State University. She aspires to study law at UCLA.

Leyal Almaklani, a 2020 Dearborn High School (DHS) alumna who was dual enrolled at HFC, was one of three recipients of the Marge Powell Leadership Award from the American Association of University Women (AAUW)-Dearborn.

“I was kind of shocked. I do not typically broadcast my accomplishments, so I did not expect it. It’s truly an honor, though. My accomplishments and lending a helping hand is not to get recognition, but to better myself and help those in need. I genuinely care about others,” said Almaklani, a lifelong Dearborn resident, who is the eldest of three.

The Marge Powell Leadership Award

Since 2011, the AAUW-Dearborn has honored a high school student from each of the three high schools in the Dearborn Public Schools – DHS, Edsel Ford, and Fordson – with the Marge Powell Leadership Award. This award is funded through the AAUW-Dearborn’s Annual Used Book Sale, its main fundraiser.

Powell served the Dearborn community for more than 35 years, holding many leadership roles. Most notably, she was a member of the Dearborn City Council and the first woman to be elected to the Council in 20 years. Powell was also one of the first female members allowed to join the Rotary Club of Dearborn in 1988.

With Powell’s history of breaking glass ceilings for women, the AAUW-Dearborn established this award in her name to ensure her legacy of service is remembered.

The Marge Powell Leadership Award is not an award that students apply for. They are nominated for by a teacher, counselor, or principal due to their exceptional academic accomplishments, community service, and outstanding leadership skills.

Almaklani’s accomplishments

DHS social worker Stacy Rumler nominated Almaklani for the Marge Powell Leadership Award. Almaklani won a plaque and $500. Rumler knows Almaklani because she is the advisor for the Anti-Bullying Club, of which Almaklani was president.

Almaklani was also secretary of the Red Cross Club, as well as a member of the National Honor Society, the Key Club, and the track team. She was an active member of the Thirst Project, where she raised funds for a well in Africa. Outside of her school activities, Almaklani volunteered at the Yemen American Benevolent Association (YABA) and the Islamic Center of Detroit.

At HFC, Almaklani – who is fluent in English and Arabic and knows conversational Spanish – took law enforcement and criminal justice classes, as well as juvenile justice and logistical philosophy classes. She had a great experience at HFC.

“I loved it! I learned a lot, and it made me more interested and passionate about what I want to do,” she said. “I loved that it exposed me to a college lifestyle in a less intense manner than some other institutions.”

Dreams of attending UCLA School of Law

This fall, she will attend Wayne State University, where she’ll major in computer science and pursue various humanitarian projects. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Almaklani hopes to study law at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

“It’s always been a dream,” she said. “I believe that the criminal justice system needs to change for the better. Unfortunately, racism, bias, and ignorance, among other things, stand in the way of true justice. I hope to help by providing individuals with a fair trial.”

She interned for AT Law Group in Dearborn for six months.

“Interning gave me exposure to what the work environment is like for lawyers,” she said. “They were all nice and hardworking individuals.”

Almaklani also interned for Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court.

“Volunteering at her events was exciting,” recalled Almaklani. “I told her about my plan to get a bachelor’s in computer science, then go to law school. She said that it was a great plan that would make me stand out. She also told me to continue to volunteer and help my community as much as I can. I will follow that advice.”