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Release Date: 
Thursday, November 10, 2022

Three from HFC named to Arab American Foundation 40 Under 40

Portraits of Shareefa Albanna, Saif Alsenad, and Dr. Tareq Ramadan.
From L-R: HFC alumna Shareefa Albanna, HFC alumnus Saif Alsenad, and HFC instructor Dr. Tareq Ramadan have been named to the Arab America Foundation's 40 Under 40 list.

The Arab America Foundation recently released its 40 Under 40 list, where 40 Arab Americans under the age of 40 from numerous fields and disciplines were announced.

Of the 40, two are HFC alumni and one is an HFC instructor. They are:

  • Shareefa Albanna
  • Saif Alsenad
  • Dr. Tareq Ramadan

These 40 awardees were recently honored at Nov. 4-6’s National Summit. The 40 Under 40 program spotlights Arab American professionals in all fields and business sectors.

“We’re so excited about 40 highly accomplished Arab Americans under the age of 40,” said Arab America Foundation co-founder Warren David. “They are the empowering force who are making significant progress in the Arab American community and the community at large.”

Shareefa Albanna: entrepreneur and humanitarian

After Shareefa Albanna earned her associate degree in business administration from HFC in 2014, she remained connected to the College.

She is the vice president of the inaugural HFC Alumni Council.

“Last year, (HFC Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement) Shai James-Boyd reached out to alumni who are passionate about giving back to HFC. I applied, and she called me within a day. This is a great group of people who are passionate about HFC and its mission. It’s really important to me and I take this role very seriously,” said Albanna, who splits her time between Dearborn and her native Buffalo, NY with her daughter Selma, 10.

She is also a 2022 recipient of the HFC Alumni Award.

“This was huge for me as well,” said Albanna. “This award is so near and dear to me because it was at HFC where I really started my journey. To come back more than a decade later and to speak to the students -- who are now where I was -- is such a great experience. I gave them advice I wish I had back then.”

To be named to the 40 Under 40 list is a huge honor for Albanna.

“They have so many prestigious people on this list. Representation is huge for me,” she said.

After graduating from HFC, Albanna transferred to the University of Arizona, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business leadership and also completed coursework in entrepreneurial leadership and strategic leadership. In 2023, she will pursue dual MBA/Ph.D. degrees in organizational leadership and industrial/organizational psychology at Arizona.

Albanna works as an entrepreneur and economic development consultant. The State University of New York and the University of Buffalo Business & Entrepreneurial Partnerships appointed her Startup Ventures Success Manager.

She is a proud Yemeni-American humanitarian, advocating for economically disadvantaged women and children. Her work has been widely recognized by Muslim and non-Muslim communities across the U.S. She has supported initiatives across Africa and the Middle East since 2011. Her efforts include:

  • Sponsoring orphans in Africa, Syria, and Yemen
  • Supporting construction of temporary schools for refugees
  • Contributing to building mosques in the United States, Niger, and Yemen
  • Supporting orphanage welfare
  • Funding entrepreneurial empowerment initiatives in Egypt, Niger, and Yemen

An award-winning businesswoman and economic empowerment advocate, Albanna plans to develop a program of awarding startup venture micro-loans to aspiring entrepreneurs from economically distressed regions across the globe.

“HFC gave me my start as a professional and as a humanitarian. HFC introduced me to Dr. Jared Boyd, who exposed me to humanitarian work in his economics class. For the past decade, I’ve been able to empower underserved communities around the world, including Africa and the U.S.,” said Albanna. “For me, HFC is more than just a community college I attended. It's the place that opened doors for me. I’m the daughter of an immigrant, so for me to be able to come here and study at HFC and to have them recognize me so many years later is really a big honor.”

Saif Alsenad: from law enforcement to public service

HFC laid the foundation for Saif Alsenad to pursue a career in public service.

“The professors at HFC were lifelong, dedicated professionals. They were able to extrapolate real-life stories and circumstances into the classroom. The education I received from HFC gave me the ability to transition into the real world. Criminal justice instructors Gregory Osowski and Daniel Kearney were my role models and a true inspiration for everyone. They both inspired me to pursue a career in law enforcement,” said Alsenad, a Detroit native.

Alsenad is the second of four children and the only son. His older sister is a substance abuse counselor and his younger sisters are a physician and entrepreneur, respectively. His mother is a small business owner and his late father was a professor.

“He passed away 3 years ago. My father was and still is my hero. He fought through his illness with a big smile on his face. His smile always gave me hope and ambition to continue, no matter the obstacles,” he said. “I’m super proud of my siblings and can’t thank my mother enough. She’s my backbone and best friend. Both my parents were immigrants who came to the U.S. very young seeking higher education and entrepreneurship.”

Alsenad earned his associate degree in criminal justice from HFC. Transferring to Madonna University in Livonia, he earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice. While at Madonna, he also earned his certifications in crime scene investigation and completed a private investigations program. He completed training at the Oakland Community College Police Academy and the Macomb Criminal Justice Training Center.

He served as a court officer for the 18th District Court in Westland for several years. From there, he joined the Inkster Police Department. During his time with the IPD, he served as an evidence technician, where he collected and preserved evidence from multiple crime scenes. He also worked in the detective bureau.

“My role as an evidence technician was truly rewarding,” he said. “I was able to assist in bringing closure and justice to victims’ families.”

Since May 2021, Alsenad has been the executive director/assistant to Inkster Mayor Patrick Wimberly.

“I’m now able to serve the Inkster community in a larger capacity by working in the Office of the Mayor,” he said.

Some of his duties include:

  • Planning and directing administrative and operational activities
  • Organizing and prioritizing critical issues/required information
  • Acting as point of contact between management and department heads
  • Providing oversight and guidance on projects
  • Assisting in management of the executive support staff
  • Acting as community liaison for the Office of the Mayor
  • Developing positive relationships on behalf of the Office of the Mayor with government regulators, families, the area health care community, and the community at large

“When I found out I was named to the 40 under 40 list, I was speechless, teary-eyed, and proud. It’s very encouraging and rewarding when your hard work gets acknowledged,” said Alsenad. “I love the Inkster community and want to do more. My heart and soul are in the community. I want to thank Mayor Wimberly who trusted me and gave me this opportunity. I enjoy working under his leadership. We have a lot of great things coming to the Inkster community and I’m super excited I will be a part of it. My career goal is assisting in government operations at the county or state level. I want to serve all Michiganders one day. I’d also would like to return to HFC as an adjunct professor. I have always and will continue my dedication to serve.”

Dr. Tareq Ramadan: anthropology instructor and historic preservationist

HFC anthropology instructor Dr. Tareq Ramadan works regularly with immigration attorneys across the nation as an expert witness to the Arab community in an effort to help defend against deportations. Ramadan made headlines last year when he landed a $380,850 federal grant from the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund to rehabilitate the former Inkster home of the famed Civil Rights leader Malcolm X.

In addition to his teaching duties at HFC and at Wayne State University, his alma mater, Ramadan is the project manager for the local nonprofit organization Project We Hope Dream and Believe in Dearborn Heights.

“Throughout my college career, I was fortunate to have good professors who were truly invested in educating their students and who, I felt, had a tremendous impact on my own life trajectory. I hadn’t imagined being a professor until about 15 years ago when I was offered a graduate instructor position,” he recalled. “Over that time, I finished my Ph.D. and have taught 10 different courses across various disciplines and in several departments. I cherish every aspect of being a professor. It’s been some of the most rewarding work I have done. I hope that I am able to enrich and positively impact lives the same way my professors did for me.”

Ramadan spoke about saving Malcolm X’s home from being demolished by the City of Inkster and his efforts in getting it restored.

“While undoubtedly controversial in his views, Malcolm X’s transformation and evolution as a human being and as a Civil Rights leader was nothing short of remarkable. When I learned that he had resided in Inkster… I jumped at the opportunity to help bring attention to the historically significant home and do what I could with my amazing colleagues at PWHDAB to preserve it. I was able to write a grant for $380,850, land the home on the National Register of Historic Places, and organize a joint archaeological excavation project with Wayne State’s Department of Anthropology at the home in July of this year. We plan to transform the house into a museum that highlights Malcolm X’s life as a Civil Rights leader and that sheds light on his time spent in Inkster in the early 1950s,” he explained.

A graduate of Truman High School in Taylor, Ramadan is a 3-time alumnus of Wayne State. He earned both his bachelor's and doctoral degrees in anthropology and his master’s degree in near eastern studies.

“I am incredibly flattered that I was selected to be on this list,” said Ramadan. “Sharing this honor with so many amazing and talented Arab Americans has been humbling, to say the least. Arab Americans have contributed immensely to many fields, disciplines, and areas of cultural, social, economic, technological, and political life. They absolutely deserve to be recognized for it. The Arab America Foundation has been instrumental in doing this, as well as providing a platform for an Arab American voice and for raising awareness of the culture, history, innovations, and contributions of the Arab American community around the country.”