Aniya Akhtar, Class of 2020, has been awarded the 2020 Caplan-Lieber Human Relations Award. Presented by the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee, the recognition is awarded to a student who has shown initiative and leadership in combating prejudice and fostering relationships between diverse groups in the Pittsburgh area.
At Ellis, Aniya was the co-president of the Student Diversity League (SDL) and the co-president of the Muslim Cultural Union. As co-president of SDL, Aniya led Ellis’ student-led diversity conference, Culture Jam, which brings together over 300 Pittsburgh-area high school students to discuss social justice issues including race, gender, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status, family structure, and more. As a leader in the Muslim Cultural Union, Aniya organized Ellis’ first-ever Iftar Dinner to encourage interfaith conversations within the Ellis community and educate her peers on Ramadan. Outside of Ellis, Aniya is a founding member of the Pittsburgh teen chapter of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (SOSS), alongside fellow Ellis student, Simone Rothstein, Class of 2020. A global grassroots organization, the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom fosters relationships between Muslim and Jewish women.
Keith Bryner, Director of College Counseling, shares, “In a tumultuous time that is simultaneously rife with opportunity to affect systemic change in the world, Aniya Akhtar represents the highest ideals of engagement, citizenship, and hope for a better tomorrow. I have great faith that her varied efforts, both here at Ellis and soon in her collegiate career, will continue to distinctly raise the visibility of young people who work across religious, racial, and ethnic lines to find compelling ways forward in our shared world.”