Who Inspires You

Stories about how people in your life have inspired or encouraged you

Henry Holden

Posted April 21, 2016

In 2014, Madison Pierce from Los Angeles, California was given an assignment to write about someone who not only inspired her but also overcame adversity.  Read Madison’s story “Attitudes Are the Real Disability” about the LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Ambassador, Henry Holden. As we Celebrate Hope in 2016, STAR Ambassador Henry Holden will shine brightly for LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited.

 

Abdul Hafiz – A LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Ambassador Abdul

Graduated May 8, 2015 from Northeastern University

Abdul, “global citizen, campus leader and Torch Scholar” graduated on Friday, May 8, becoming the first member of his family to earn a college degree.

At the age of eight, Abdul’s brother (Ibrahim) was 16 months old when he crawled on to the fifth floor fire escape of his family’s apartment and fell through the rails to his death. This was a devastating incident to Abdul. Though saddened by this incident, Abdul was inspired to do something that would make a difference.

The day after the death of Ibrahim, Patricia Lockhart had her class to write cards to Abdul’s family. Advocacy began for Abdul and his teacher. They worked towards safe fire escapes with the Housing of Urban Development. Abdul started volunteering at a park that was close to his school when he was in the second grade.

His inspiration—teacher Patricia Lockhart at PS57

Abdul and his family resided in New York (Staten Island. Abdul said, “I started a campaign entitled ‘Ibrahim’s Law’ that would require retractable steel safety gates on fire escape windows in New York multiple dwellings. With the help of Patricia Lockhart, Abdul’s second-grade teacher and mentor, and fellow classmates, he secured a grant of $500,000 from Housing and Urban Development to install window safety gates, security cameras, and two computer labs and to reduce crime in his Staten Island neighborhood.” This was and effort to keep other families from experience tragedy like Abdul’s family had to experience.

Abdul wanted to go to college when he was growing up. In high school, he studied Law and Government student. He was active in many school organizations that were beneficial to his aspirations.

He continued to work with his teacher. Soon heading off to college as a Torch Scholar at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.  “Torch is much more than a scholarship; it’s a model for access, retention, and achievement.”

As he was finishing up college, Abdul told me, “I am studying International Affairs and Political Science with a minor in Law and Public Policy. I currently serve in the position of Undergraduate Member to the Grand Board of Directors of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the Vice-Chairman of the Achievement Academy. As a member of the Board of Directors, I am involved in the governance of the international organization.”

Continuing to meet with New York politicians, Abdul does fundraising and works on writing legislation for positive change. Abdul says, “Through my work I realized I had a passion to help others, a passion for getting involved in my community and beyond.”

This amazing young man is headed to Law School.