Freda Shamma Receives the ISNA Lifetime Achievement Award
By Meha Ahmed
Dining in a banquet hall at the Weston Hotel in Rosemont, surrounded by fellow educators and supporters, Sr. Shamma had no idea she was about to win the ISNA Lifetime Achievement Award for her years of service to Islamic education and curriculum development. When her name came on screen, she was shocked.
“I saw my name flash and it was me,” Shamma, who resides in Ohio, said. “And I thought, ‘None of my family is here.’”
But to her surprise, they were. On stage to present their mother with the award was Shamma’s five children. Silenced by complete shock, Freda yielded the microphone to her son Riyad, who then gave an acceptance speech in her place.
Moments after winning the ISNA Lifetime Achievement Award, I found Freda Shamma sitting in a lobby-alcove, giving interviews and receiving congratulations and praise from passersby and admirers for her years of hard work and dedicated service in the battlefield of education and curriculum development.
I sat down with sister Freda to discuss books, literature for Muslim youth, and her latest projects:
What is it that you love about teaching?
What is your advice to fellow teachers?
Is there a motto that you live by?
What are you working on now?
Looking back on tonight, what would you have said if you could?
According to Riyad, his mother is a hard worker who is too modest to have foreseen the evening turning out the way it had.
“My mother has always been a very humble person and she never would have expected to get the award. It’s nice when your peers recognize your years of hard work,” Riyad said.
To Freda, the award is touching, but she already had the best reward she could’ve gotten.
“My kids are my prize,” Freda said.
Meha Ahmed: With a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, Meha Ahmad is a Sound Vision writer and the classic reporter. Running around the streets of Chicago chasing interviews, you rarely find her without her trusty laptop and a strong cup of coffee. When she's not writing compelling stories, you'll find her on your favorite social media sites scrounging for new leads, finding out what readers really want and studying new and unique ways to share what she loves most: a good story.
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