Young Journalist & Non-Profit Advocate Rima Abdelkader
Have you ever complained about not having enough hours in the day? Well, 23-year-old Rima Abdelkader would put you to shame. Not only does she work as a print and television Journalist, she also dedicates her time to over a half a dozen non-profit organizations. This native New Yorker spent two years in Jerusalem during the Persian Gulf War, an experience that has undoubtedly impacted her adult life. Her motto, “it is our responsibility to help ourselves as well as others,” is not just something she says, she lives it. One of the many non-profits she gives her time to is the Selective Corporate Internship Program (SCIP), a program she participated in as a high school student. It gives talented students from public high schools the opportunity to gain skills to succeed in the business world. Her responsibility to others is what sets her apart. If you want to learn more about the many Middle Eastern non-profits Rima participates in, or if you just want to be inspired, read on.
Freelance Print and TV journalist based in New York
New York-based journalist
Staten Island, New York
Staten Island, New York
B.B.A. in Marketing with concentration in Management
Minor: Political Science
Freelance Print and TV journalist based in New York
Online News Blogger
New York TV Correspondent
American of Arab origin
What’s your story? What’s your background?
I was socialized and educated in a predominantly old-fashioned, yet contemporary Arab family in Staten Island, New York and lived in Jerusalem for two years during the time of the Persian Gulf War and still-elusive Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I was born in Brooklyn and shortly thereafter, at the age of one, moved to the borough of Staten Island.
What do you do now? What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I am a freelance print and TV journalist based in New York. Since this past week, I have been covering the 62nd regular session of the General Assembly at the United Nations and have been interviewing heads of state and heads of government. This occupies much of my time, but I do my best in balancing my love for volunteering for a better community and in spending time with my family and friends.
Giving back is very important to me. In my downtime, I volunteer my service to several non-profit organizations in the United States. These are just some of the organizations I serve.
Since my junior year of high school, I volunteer some of my time to the Selective Corporate Internship Program (SCIP). The SCIP assists with an annual summer mentorship program for talented, under-served students from public high schools in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area.
Since my freshman year of college, I have been dedicating some of my time to the New York Women in Communications, Inc. (NYWICI). This non-profit organization provides scholarship, career, and educational opportunities to students in the Communications field, and volunteer with the marketing and promotion of events and panel discussions for their Student Affairs Committee.
Since my senior year of college, I have been the student liaison officer for the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA). AMEJA is a non-profit organization for media professionals of Arab and Middle Eastern descent. There, I volunteer to assist journalism students with finding internships and scholarship opportunities on a daily basis.
Since my sophomore year of college, I have been an active member of the Network of Arab-American Professionals (NAAP). The NAAP is a volunteer-based community organization that organizes several community service initiatives as well as assists students and young professionals with opportunities for networking among professionals. I am currently assisting them with the development and promotion of an upcoming conference scheduled for November.
I also assist with the marketing and promotion of The American MidEast Leadership Network (AMLN), a non-profit organization that brings together professionals, educators and philanthropists from the Middle East and the United States through educational and cultural exchanges.
Through my everyday service activities, I have learned the importance of volunteering for a better community and am grateful to God for allowing me to realize this sooner.
There is so much more, but I will stop here.
Most notable professional milestones and accomplishments
There is always time to lend a helping hand. I do not see this as an achievement or as a milestone, but as something that we should be doing each and everyday. It is our responsibility. To know that others have benefited from our endless efforts (those of us who continue to lend a helping hand to others in improving our community) through public service is what motivates me to keep on keeping on.
What makes you unique?
I am genuinely interested in what others have to say, have a deep motivation for helping people, and have a conscience.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Bringing forth unpopular views in academic circles and in the professional world is a continual challenge, much like improving our community through public service. I do my best in providing others with both sides to a story even if it is a side a particular person or group would not like to hear.
What’s in store for the future?
Next fall, I will be attending graduate school to pursue a Master’s degree in Journalism and in Public Affairs.
Best way to stay ahead in your industry
Stay on top of the news. Read a variety of newspapers, magazines, online news media, and news blogs. I have come to realize that online networking websites are the new news media for information.
Guiding principle in life
“Do not wait for the ‘thank you’ in life before you undertake your next good deed. Be a leader with a conscience. Every break we are awarded (no matter how minimal the effort), we should strive to give back a similar help to another deserving person.”
What is your yardstick of success?
I have an insatiable desire to help others succeed even though I have not quite made it myself. Some of my friends disagree with me and feel that one should focus on oneself before they can begin to help others. I disagree. It is our responsibility to help ourselves as well as others. When I see that the lives of others are improving because of our efforts, it motivates me to continue on with my passion for community service and for journalism.
Any goals yet to be achieved?
It is a never-ending feat.
Best practical advice for others interested in your career type
Have a positive attitude no matter the circumstances (I know this can be challenging, but try), be patient and be true to yourself.
There have been so many people that have come and gone in my life who I would call a mentor. I do not want TheCulturalConnect.com to start playing the music anytime soon, but I will end by attributing my “flying” to my mother. My mother has taught me the inner-core of becoming a leader and I admire her for that.
Like best about what you do?
I enjoy interviewing people from all walks of life on their life challenges and how they managed to find the strength to overcome.
Like least about what you do?
Not knowing what story is in store for me can be both a load and a relief (in my life and as a journalist).
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Wow, at that age, I had so many dreams. I loved drawing. At one point, I wanted to be a fashion designer.
What was your first job?
In the summer of my junior year of high school, I was selected as an intern for the Selective Corporate Internship Program (SCIP). From an intern, I was promoted rapidly to Project Leader of the SCIP program. Developing project schedules, assigning tasks, coordinating all aspects of work for the successful completion of projects are some of the tasks I was responsible for.
Biggest pastimes outside of work
I love playing golf and am trying to find a women’s golf team on Staten Island. If you know of any, please let me know. That is my next challenge. I was the co-captain of the first girls’ golf team in high school at New Dorp High in Staten Island.
Person most interested in meeting?
I have met many heads of state and heads of government in my line of work and am very grateful for that opportunity, but I would love the chance to meet one of my favorite singers, Michael Buble. I enjoy his music. He definitely has a gift for singing. My favorite song is “Feeling Good”.
“Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Reeds driftin’ on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn
Its a new day
Its a new life
And I’m feeling good”
–“Feeling Good” as sung by Michael Buble
Leader in business most interested in meeting?
I look forward to reading Jack and Suzy Welch’s column in each issue of BusinessWeek. They are definitely a couple I would like to meet and to discuss “flying” and “falling” stories with. Their “IdeasTheWelchWay” column is very practical and helpful.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I love listening and singing to Sinatra-style music.
- I love sporting my Pace cap.
- I love taking pictures with my digital camera.
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
- My family
- My friends
“Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt
In the future, I plan on continuing my education and applying to a Ph.D. program in media studies where my practical work in this field would lead me to teaching at a university level and inspiring a new generation of journalism students to continue innovative work in the field. I also hope to start a not-for-profit scholarship organization for Arab-American students interested in journalism.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
I want the mainstream news media to find their missing gem. She is right here.
Interview by Sumaya Kazi
Introduction by Sabine Alam
Edited by Valerie Enriquez