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Skidmore College

Naira Abdula ’20 honored as 2020 Palamountain Scholar

July 14, 2020
by Angela Valden

Naira Abdula ’20, a young humanitarian leader, an engaged member of the Skidmore community and an exemplary student, is the recipient of the 2020 Anne T. Palamountain Scholar Award and was celebrated during Skidmore’s 41st annual Polo by Twilight fundraiser, held virtually on Tuesday, July 21.

A tireless advocate for her home country of Mozambique, Abdula and partners founded Edutrer, an afterschool program in her hometown, in 2015. She was awarded a $10,000 World Davis Peace grant for her efforts, allowing her team to build and equip a library and learning lab.

“Starting my own non-governmental organization was always a dream for me,” Abdula said in 2018. “The problem that I identified was the poor education quality in my country. To solve the problem, I created a program that teaches underprivileged children how to read, write and count using interactive technology and fun activities.”

Abdula won third place and $5,000 for the nonprofit organization in Skidmore’s 2018 Freirich Business Plan Competition, and after a cyclone devastated Mozambique in March 2019, she passionately led a fundraiser to help the nation rebuild and brought Edutrer back to the Freirich competition later that year. She earned another $1,000 for the nonprofit through the business plan contest, along with the support of alumni judges and mentors who were moved by her poignant presentation.

Her experience in leading the Edutrer team, writing project proposals, grant and financial reports and analyzing budgets also helped prepare her for a career in the competitive finance industry. In her sophomore year, Abdula accepted a summer internship at Swiss Reinsurance as a casualty underwriter intern in New York City. Through the Career Development Center’s Wall Street 101 program, she connected with alumni from leading financial services firm Credit Suisse and was offered a position in the firm's summer analyst program. After graduating from Skidmore with a Bachelor of Science in management and business in May, she went to work for Credit Suisse full time while continuing to lead Edutrer.

An active member of the campus community, Abdula also served as a peer mentor, teaching assistant and member of the Investment Club and International Student Union while at Skidmore. She was the recipient of a 2019 President’s Award, awarded to individuals and groups who have embraced the educational mission and progressive spirit of the College through exemplary commitment to personal excellence, campus pride and community service.

“Skidmore gave me the tools so I could live the life my grandmother and my mother envisioned for me,” says Abdula. “I am beyond grateful for all the opportunities I got, and I have never been more excited about what the future has to offer.”

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