Ruth Kahssai
2020 1stGen@Iowa Award Recipient

First-Generation Student Achievement Award

Ruth Kahssai is a fourth-year undergraduate student double majoring in Social Justice and Social Work with a minor in Psychology. She was born and raised in Carol Stream, IL and is the first in her family to attend college. Upon her arrival on campus, Ruth was overwhelmed with institutional challenges relating to her identities as a young Black woman, first-generation student, among many others. Soon, she found a passion for social justice and community building, which lead her to her academic and extracurricular path towards bettering campus for students like Ruth. She started in Campus Activities Board, and served in admin leadership and started the Inclusion Task Force in the organization. Ruth was heavily involved in Undergraduate Student Government and worked on initiatives such as Healing Spaces with Dr. Maria Bruno and chairing the 3rd Annual “I’m the First” First-Generation Summit. In her third year she worked as a Resident Assistant to the Political Matters Living Learning Community, a residence education community focused on political and social justice learning and engagement. In 2019, she traveled to Memphis, TN for Alternative Spring Break focusing on Racial Justice in the area. Ruth had another opportunity to travel in January of 2020 to the Dominican Republic for an interdisciplinary study abroad experience with the School of Social Work and Tippie School of Business. She has had multiple volunteer and internship opportunities, including the Women’s Resource Action Center, Rape Victim Advocacy Program, and Domestic Violence Intervention Program. Academically, Ruth is interested in the intersections of racial justice and public health. She worked with Dr. Lina-Maria Murillo as an Academic Intern in the Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS) department. In spring of 2019, Ruth was awarded the 2020 Kristen K. Lippke Memorial Scholarship through the GWSS and Social Justice program. She has served on numerous committees, including Iowa charter and search committee. Ruth now works with Dr. Maria Bruno in Belonging & Inclusion initiatives. Ruth’s goal since childhood has always been to attend college, and she is thankful to be able to complete this goal this upcoming May with the love and support of those in her college journey.

Click here to read more about the 1stGen@Iowa Awards.