Distinguished Graduate Student

    Award 2016


    Dec. 3, 2016

    Iraqi Embassy, Consulate

    1801 P St. NW

    Washington, DC


    On December 3, 2016 and for the first time, Iraqi students studying for Masters and Doctoral programs in the United States are awarded: TOFIQ Distinguished Graduate Student Award.


    The award was sponsored by the organization: Together for Iraq (TOFIQ) consist of Iraqi Ex-Pats living in the United States. The event was held at the Iraqi Embassy, Consulate Building on DuPont Circle and attended by 100 invited guest included the Iraqi Ambassador in Washington. 


    TOFIQ conducted a nationwide search of Iraqi students in graduate schools across the United States. The process netted nearly sixty applicants. A committee of distinguished scholars from TOFIQ evaluated students’ credentials and grades and selected four winners – Two from the Master program and two from the doctoral programs. The winners were presented with the award at the Embassy on Dec 3 celebrating their accomplishments.




    Dear supporter,

    On behalf of the TOFIQ board it is my pleasure and honor to welcome you all to this celebration for TOFIQ Academic Excellence Award ceremony for Iraqi Graduate Students in the U.S. for the year 2016.


    This celebration is the inaugural award ceremony and the first public event attended by our Ambassador, Dr. Fareed Yaseen. We wish him the best of luck for great achievements in his very important task of serving the Iraqi people.


    We thank HE Dr. Alhakim who joined us from New York to show his support and to present the awardees with his token of appreciation. Thanks are extended to Mr. Pennington and Ms. Bayan Abdul Rahman for joining us in this celebration.   Thanks to the former Iraqi Ambassador HE Lukman Alfaily, for his financial and moral support to have this event come to fruition.


    Special thanks to Ms. Lorna Middlebrough for her continued support and leadership in the Iraqi scholarship program for the past decade. 


    Thanks to Al Hikma book store for the books gift to our celebrated students. 


    Thanks to all Iraqi official organizations that sponsored and supported our graduate students: Allow me to specially thank my “colleague” Dr. Tahani Al Sandook, Iraqi cultural attaché and her team. 


    Appreciation and thanks to the Staff of the Iraqi embassy for hosting the event and for their generosity and hospitality. 


    A Hadi Al Khalili, MD

    Chair, TOFIQ




    Dec. 3, 2016

    Embassy of Iraq, Consulate building,

    1801 P St., NW, Washington, DC


    5:00       (25)    Opening Reception

                              Guests arrive; refreshments served

    5:25       (5)      Usher guests to tables

    5:30       (5)      Welcome and Introduce First Musical Group

                              Dr. Hadi Al Khalili

    5:35       (30)    Musical Performance (Eastern String Trio)

    6:05       (5)      Remarks on behalf of TOFIQ

                              Dr. Hadi Al Khalili

    6:10       (5)     Remarks on behalf of the Government of Iraq

                             H.E. Dr. Fareed Yasseen, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to the United States

    6:15       (5)     Remarks on behalf of the U.S. Government by the Honorable Mr. Joseph Pennington,

                             Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Affairs, at the U.S. Department of State

    6:20       (5)     Remarks on behalf of the KRG, Iraq by the Honorable Ms. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman

    6:25       (10)   Keynote speaker, Prof. Samir Johna, Loma Linda University, CA

    6:35       (10)   Presentation of TOFIQ Awards and Gifts from:

                             HE Ambassador F. Yasseen

                             HE Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim (Chief of Iraqi Mission UN)


                             PhD Students (2)

                             Masters Students (2)

    6:45       (5)     Remarks by the student Mushtaq Abd Al Rehem, University of West Virginia, on behalf of

                             the 4 awardees

    6:50       (5)    Remarks by Prof. Chuck Schaefer, Chair of International Service Programs, on behalf of

                            students’ advisors.

    6:55       (5)    Remarks on behalf of the Scholarship Programs,

                            Dr. Tahani Al Sandook, Cultural Attaché, Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

    7:00      (5)     Wrap Up to Awards Ceremony and to introduce the Second Musical Performance;

                            Dr. Majeed Alsikafi, TOFIQ Board member

    7:05      (30)   Second Musical Performance, Potomac String Quintet (members of The National Orchestra)

    7:40      (5)     Thanks by TOFIQ; Conclusion of Formal Event, Dr. Hadi Al Khalili

    7:45      (15)   Reception Continues Group Photos, with Awardees and VIPs

    8:00                Event Ends



    Why the AWARD?

    Distinguished Graduate Student Award was created by the TOFIQ organization to honor students of Iraqi origin for their academic excellence and contributions.  The aim of this project is mainly to inspire and encourage Iraqi graduate students and recognize excellence among them. 


    About TOFIQ

    TOFIQ is the outcome of a long struggle and hard work. It became a reality after the conference at the Library of Congress, Washington DC in 2008, and the Iraqi American Academics Conference at The National Academies in Washington DC in 2009. Following that conference the official launching of “Together For Iraq” project was established in 2009 under the umbrella of Iraq Cultural Attaché in Washington. As the project faced many difficulties it was decided to establish a nongovernmental organization and TOFIQ was established in 2012 as an independent entity. TOFIQ was registered as an NGO in the State of Maryland as with 501 C3 tax exempt organizations.


    The name ”TOFIQ”

    It is an acronym of “Together For Iraq” by taking TO from together, F from For, and IQ from Iraq. TOFIQ means in Arabic language success and good luck. 


    The LOGO

    This logo was designed and made a sculpture by the pioneer and highly talented artist, the Late Mr. Mohammed Ghani Hikmet. In the logo there are two hands representing the rivers Tigris and Euphrates holding the three cultures; Mesopotamian, Arab-Islamic, and current civilization.  

    Sculpture of the logo crafted by the Late Mohammed Ghani Hikmet


    What has TOFIQ achieved so far?

    -  Established a Journal with the name of TOFIQ Journal of Medical Sciences ( which is currently     in its fourth year now and attained international recognition. Sent a volunteer surgical team last December to     help Iraqi surgeons.

    -  Sent many teaching materials of several disciplines to different institutions in Iraq.

    -  Help to train 14 Iraqi physicians in different disciplines in some of the best medical institutions within the U.S.     for 6-8 weeks.

    - Established an Iraqi Chapter for the American Chemical Society helping the Iraqi chemical community to              connect with their peers and update their knowledge.

    TOFIQ Webiste:

    TOFIQ Journal of Medical Sciences (TJMS) website:

    Tofiq Email:

    TJMS email:



    We announced the award project in a detailed flyer which was circulated through all available media which included TOFIQ website and official websites, local radio stations, local newspapers, and emailing almost all graduate students studying in the United States.

    All Iraqi graduate students were invited to apply. Students were invited from Iraq or US scholarship programs like Fulbright, or privately supported. Those who apply did not need to be Iraqi citizens as Iraqi Americans were also entitled to apply.


    Applicants needed to be in their final year in the PhD and final six months in the MS/MA studies.


    All together we had 57 applications (27of Masters and/30 PhD). Areas of specializations included STEM, humanities, health sciences and some others.   There was no indication as who were their sponsors. So also, the evaluators did not know much about the student’s identity nor have any academic relation with them. 



    In addition to the general application form, all applicants must submit the required documents listed below in order to be eligible for the Distinguished Students’ Award:


    - The award application form

    - Statement of Purpose explaining why the student believes he/she should be selected for the award and the        contribution he/she plans to make in his/her field of study

    - Research Title and Abstract (of current thesis, dissertation or other relevant research in your field of study)

    - Academics transcripts (starting from undergraduate degree(s) and current transcripts)

    - Two letters of support/recommendation (from adviser and another faculty member)

    - Academic Accomplishments (i.e. publications, seminar, workshop and/or conference presentations, patency,      posters, etc.)

    - Any other relevant information. 




                                                                       PHD                                                                                     MS/MA




    Applications were reviewed by faculty in more than 20 academic institutions in US and Canada. Criteria for selection included students the line of research, academic achievements, GPA, personal statements and letters of recommendations from their advisors and another faculty. We are so pleased to see that most of our students have distinguished themselves in spite of the education and cultural shocks they confronted at the start of their study.  We wished to have given each and every one of them an award.  All we could do with the limitations we have was to increase the number of winners to four instead of two. The committee initially reviewed top 10 applicants, and on the bases of a unanimous approval by all members 2 PhD and 2 Masters were selected.


    THE WINNERS TOFIQ considers most of the applicants are winners for their great academic achievements; however the top four were named as the winners and announced at TOFIQ website on November 21st. 


    The TOFIQ Distinguished Graduate Students’ Award 2016 was awarded TO:



    1. Mohammed Alawad,   University of Central Florida, Orlando

    2. Mushtaq Abd Al Rahem, University of West Virginia


    1. Hogr Omer Tarkhani, Valparaiso University, Indiana

    2. Yasir Matloob Saeed, Portland State University    


    The crystal trophy awarded to the distinguished students


    With the compliments of TOFIQ Board of directors


    - Chair:

       A Hadi Al Khalili, MD, FRCSE, FACS, MPhil Former Prof. and Head of Department of neurosurgery, Baghdad University

       Former Iraqi Cultural Attaché, Washington, DC


    - Vice Chair:

       Adil Shamoo, Ph.D.  Editor in-Chief,  Accountability in Research Prof. of Biochemistry,

       University of Maryland School of Medicine


    - Treasurer:

       Wael Khamas, BVM&S, MS, PhD Professor of Anatomy & Histology Year I Director; Fulbright Scholar College of

       Veterinary Medicine; Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA



    - A Hussain Tuma, PhD, Former Chief Clinical Research Branch, National Institutes of Health PHS, Former Prof.

       Psychiatry, University of Pittsburg, school of medicine

    - Adil Al Humadi, MD, FACS Senior Colorectal Surgeon, Olean, NY Associate Clinical Prof.

       State University of New York at Buffalo 

    - Samir Johna, MD, MACM, FACS, FICS Member of Board of Directors SCPMG, Clinical Professor of Surgery,

      Loma Linda University, California

    - Majeed Alsikafi, PhD Prof. Emeritus, of Political Science, University of Alabama





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