Shereen Abdel Kader Wins Achieving Women Award from Presidential Commission
By Joe Savrock (May 2007)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Shereen Abdel Kader, doctoral candidate in Early Childhood Education, received the 2007 Achieving Women Award for Graduate Student from Penn State’s Commission for Women. The Commission, as well as President Graham Spanier, honored achieving women of the University during award ceremonies April 9.
Each year, the Commission presents University-wide Achieving Women Awards in seven categories—faculty, administration, staff exempt, staff non-exempt, technical service, graduate student, and undergraduate student. These awards recognize Penn State women who have consistently shown leadership and are accomplished in their fields; have supported the University’s diversity efforts and promoted equal opportunity; and have contributed to human causes and public service activities. Competition in the Achieving Women awards is intense; this year’s winners were chosen from among a strong pool of highly-qualified candidates in each category.
Abdel Kader also serves as an assistant professor in Kindergarten Teachers’ College at Cairo University in Egypt.
"Shereen is a remarkably energetic, creative, engaging, and dedicated person," said Keith Nelson, professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts. "She is on the path to becoming a highly productive, highly achieving star in her profession."
She has earned numerous awards both in Egypt and in the United States. Among her awards are the Pi Lambda Theta Scholarship and Research Grant, the Alumni Society 25th Anniversary/Pi Lambda Theta for superior graduate students, the Phi Delta Kappa International Graduate Fellowship in Educational Leadership, and the Conrad Frank Jr. Graduate Fellowship and the Burdett E. Larson Graduate Fellowship, which recognize students in education who are committed to college teaching and research and whose ethnic, cultural, or national backgrounds contribute to the diversity of the student body.
“These awards point out and document the significance of her work, dedication to educational tasks, and endeavors and promise in current and future work,” said Thomas Yawkey, professor emeritus of education, who serves as Abdel Kader’s academic and thesis advisor. “She is a strong achieving woman who is able to help gather together many diverse voices, and with dedicated organization and focus has been able to work to advance creativity.”
“Shereen is a dynamic, full-speed-ahead advocate for creative children,” added Kyle Peck, associate dean for outreach, technology, and international programs. “She is passionate about improving parents’ and teachers’ ability to recognize creativity when they see it, and to enhance it rather than extinguish it.”
Abdel Kader’s research focuses on creativity and identifying ways by which creativity can be nurtured across the life span. Currently, she is the principle investigator of a $22,000 Outreach grant to produce three video tapes to educate community and society about creativity.
She has transformed her thesis perspectives and results into ongoing efforts for creating a Center for Creativity at Penn State, which she expects to direct after earning her doctorate this year. The proposed Center’s mission would focus on enhancing the university, community, society, and the globe perspectives and recognition of creative needs and manifestations. “The Center would be interdisciplinary, inclusive, and intergenerational, and is directed at recognizing and appreciating the signs of creativity from birth to late adulthood,” she says.
Abdel Kader says she is leading a new school reform that she calls “Education for creativity rather than education for achievement. I defend everyone’s equal-opportunity right to be creative, even those with special needs. I believe there is always the gift of disability.”
She asserts that, “In order to meet the challenge in the new century, we should build a creative society, and children and adults need to acquire creativity as a life skill so that they can contribute effectively in the changing world. From an equal opportunity standpoint, all individuals from birth to late adulthood have the right to fully express their creative potentials and to enjoy the best quality of educational programming and workplaces that allow them to learn, develop, and to be enhanced creatively.”