Class of 2007
Awarded in 2017
10th Reunion Award
The Beloit College Alumni Association is pleased to award the Young Alumni Award to Zainab Alkhawaja, class of 2007, on this, her 10th Reunion.
Zainab Alkhawaja is a courageous human rights activist from the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain.
Raised in Denmark, in exile from her beloved homeland, Zainab and her family were finally allowed to return to Bahrain several years before she won a college scholarship from the U.S. Department of State. She came to Beloit College on that scholarship with hope, she wrote, that “By going to America, I will have the chance of being a bridge—a bridge between two worlds.” She entered Beloit in the fall of 2005 as a transfer student and graduated two years later.
Zainab loved the freedom to speak her mind as a Beloit College student, something she and her activist family could not do—and cannot do to this day—under Bahrain’s repressive monarchy. Several years after she graduated from Beloit and returned home, Zainab became a central figure in the peaceful protests of the Arab Spring, which rocked Bahrain in 2011. On the streets and through her Twitter handle “Angry Arabiya,” she gave a powerful voice to the cries of the Bahraini majority against government corruption and the deportation, torture, and unfair imprisonment of citizens.
For speaking out, Zainab was imprisoned by the regime. She embarked on a hunger strike that garnered international attention and inspired Beloit College faculty, staff, and students to fast in solidarity half a world away.
Through six ensuing years of struggle, Zainab has never been intimidated by the authoritarian regime. Indeed, she has continued building the bridges she once wrote about, constructing them through social media and in places like the opinion pages of the New York Times.
For her strong belief in freedom of expression, her commitment to justice, her willingness to stand up and tell the story of Bahrain and the human rights abuses happening there—and for the deep personal sacrifice she has made for these causes—we are proud to call Zainab Alkhawaja an alumna of Beloit College and honor her with the 2017 Young Alumni Award.