April is Arab American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the rich culture and contributions of the diverse population of Arab Americans in the United States. It’s the second year that the month has been formally recognized by the federal government. To recognize the occasion, The Daily is putting a spotlight on members of the university community who identify as Arab American.
Nour Lababede, a Cleveland native and third-year biology major, has long admired the Arabic language, Arabic calligraphy and Islamic geometric patterns—and she’s shared those aspects of her Syrian ancestry with the Case Western Reserve University community through the Middle Eastern Cultural Association (MECA).
In her role as president of MECA, she’s helped plan language games, a calligraphy workshop and a do-it-yourself Islamic geometric art event.
“I have been very involved in developing events to [celebrate] my culture with other students—whether they also share my culture or if they want to learn about a new culture,” she said.
One of her favorite aspects of her culture is the abundance of delicious Arabic dishes—and the time spent preparing them with her family.
“Some of the best memories I have include sitting at the dinner table with my mom, sister, aunt, and grandma all rolling stuffed grape leaves together for dinner or making maamoul (date cookies) the night before Eid,” said Lababede.
Evolving at CWRU
Lababede’s passion for her culture was sparked at a young age—as was her interest in biology. Ever since her first grade teacher brought in a bucket of soil filled with worms to educate her students about insects, Lababede has considered science to be her favorite subject.
“It is so fascinating how everything is organized and I really enjoy seeing how interconnected everything really is,” she said.
Her fascination with the study of life only grew from there. That same year, she remembers learning about life cycles through raising a caterpillar into a butterfly.
“It was so beautiful seeing all of the students releasing the butterflies we raised so that they could go on their migration,” she said.
She thought back on those moments when it was time to solidify her path after high school. Lababede chose to attend Case Western Reserve for its strong pre-med program and research opportunities as she pursues her dream of becoming a physician.
“One of the most fulfilling things would be to apply what I learn to help people as a physician,” she said. “I am not sure what specialty I would like to do at the moment, so I look forward to exploring that in the future.”
Also at Case Western Reserve, Lababede is the Outreach Chair for the Commuter and Off-Campus Organization; an undergraduate researcher in Nicole Crown‘s lab where she investigates the mechanisms of crossover determination in meiosis in Drosophila; and she was an orientation leader this past summer. She is also in the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning Scholars Program and the Undergraduate Research Society’s Research Scholars Program.