Born in New York, Asmaa Rimawi is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants who came to America in 1982. In the Arab-American Muslim enclave of Bay Ridge within Brooklyn, she watched her parents fearlessly embody the American spirit by celebrating their Palestinian and Muslim identities in the shadow of 9/11. From her parents, Asmaa learned the value of remaining proud of one’s identity.
Asmaa became the first graduate of her high school, a gender-segregated Islamic school, to attend Harvard University. For her advocacy on Muslim rights on campus, she was awarded the Harvard University Cultural Foundation Director’s Award and the Korean War Memorial Award in 2014. She graduated with an honor’s degree in near Eastern languages and civilizations, completing a thesis that explored medieval Islamic perceptions of infertility.
After college, she received a master’s degree in Middle Eastern and Asian philosophy at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. That year, she explored her Palestinian heritage further, conducting field research on the Palestinian concept of sumud, steadfastness, and nonviolent resistance.
In medical school, Asmaa serves on the Dean’s task force on diversity and inclusion and is involved in the recruitment of minority students. Asmaa plans on using research to understand the struggles Arab and Muslim communities face within the field of health, and specifically, to understand the impact of discrimination on health.