Abdelhamid (Hamid) Arbab ’23 has been named as one of this year’s 40 recipients of the Marshall Scholarship, which will fund him for two years of graduate study in the United Kingdom.
The Marshall Scholarship finances American undergraduate students of “high ability” to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. Up to 50 Scholars are selected each year to study at the graduate level at a U.K. institution in any field of study.
According to the Marshall Scholarship website, Arbab plans to seek two degrees: a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies from the University of Birmingham in his first year of graduate study and a Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Oxford in his second year.
“The University of Birmingham has a really cool opportunity where they partner with a local Islamic Studies seminary. Through their master's program, I’d be able to gain both an academic perspective on Islam in Britain and undergo some traditional training,” Arbab said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian.
“The criminology degree is for me to gain a more analytical perspective and technical perspective on criminal justice reform,” he added.
Arbab has also been accepted to Harvard Law School, which he plans to attend following his time in the United Kingdom.
When asked about his plans after law school, Arbab discussed his next steps.
“After law school, I think I’m open to some spontaneity and serendipity,” Arbab said. “I’ve had a passion for criminal justice, I’ve had a passion for racial justice, but I’ve also had other passions — religion, and its intersection with public life and public policy, amongst other things.”
At Princeton, Arbab is majoring in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA). Arbab’s senior thesis focuses on Muslim rights in the New Jersey state prison system. Udi Ofer, a visiting professor in SPIA, is advising Arbab’s thesis.
“His research has already revealed some concerning patterns,” Ofer wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “And during his fact-gathering process, he is already bringing some of these concerns to the attention of policymakers, influencing their views.” Ofer previously served as the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Justice Division.
Arbab plans to continue researching Islam and incarceration during his time in the United Kingdom. According to the University’s announcement, in his first year at the University of Birmingham, he plans to “study the lived experiences of Muslims, particularly as they intersect with the criminal justice system.”
Michael Olin, the Dean of Mathey College, where Arbab serves as a residential college advisor (RCA), wrote to the ‘Prince,’ “I have been very impressed with the way Hamid has been able to balance his academics, a time-intensive RCA role, and other outside activities. It can be a challenge for any student to juggle these different responsibilities, and he has done so with grace, focus, and compassion.”
Arbab is also the former co-president of the Muslim Students Association, which he described as “probably the closest thing to what I consider a home at Princeton.”
“In many ways, Hamid is the embodiment of the spirit we try to foster at SPIA,” Ofer said. “In the service to the nation and to humanity.”
Head Podcast Editor Hope Perry contributed reporting to this piece.
Katherine Dailey is a Head News Editor who often covers breaking news, politics, and University affairs. Please send any corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.