Suzanne Akhras Sahloul, of Burr Ridge, is one of four former Moraine Valley Community College students inducted into the college’s 2020 Alumni Hall of Fame. She also has been selected as the Moraine Valley Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
Akhras Sahloul, a 1991 Moraine Valley graduate, is the founder and executive director of the Syrian Community Network (SCN), a nonprofit she established to support incoming refugees by providing social services and a community welcome, and bringing a voice and recognition for refugees transitioning to their new home.
Her service to the community throughout the past decades ranges from work with the SCN to volunteering for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the Illinois Muslim Action Day, the Universal School in Bridgeview, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the SAMS Midwest Foundation, and the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview. She also has served as a board member with the Council on American Islamic Relations.
She has been a speaker at a number of events, including those at Moraine Valley sponsored by the Arab Student Union and at a refugee camp in Jordan, as well as received invitations to join local politicians in press conferences and fundraising activities. In addition, Akhras Sahloul has regularly contributed to the scholarship fund started by the Arab Student Union and continues to mentor Moraine Valley students.
Recognition for her efforts has come from SAMS, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, as well as a UNICEF Humanitarian Award, a SAMS Service Award and a Trailblazer Award from Adler University for the SCN’s After-School program.
After earning an Associate of Arts degree from Moraine Valley, Akhras Sahloul received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and graduated magna cum laude with a Master of Arts in organizational leadership from Lewis University. She also completed a Nonprofit Management certificate from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
“We are very proud of Suzanne for turning her dream of providing a welcoming environment for refugees into a reality,” said Patti Friend, director of Alumni and Annual Programs for the Moraine Valley Foundation. “Her foresight and compassion has brought much-deserved recognition and a voice to those resettling in the United States through the foundation she has established. It is an honor for the college to induct her into the Alumni Hall of Fame.”
Akhras Sahloul is receiving special recognition as this year’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, an award given to a Moraine Valley graduate who has achieved outstanding career success, provided humanitarian service and continues to show interest in and support of education. She will be the college’s nominee to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association statewide contest.
Akhras Sahloul was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame along with Forest Reeder, of Tinley Park; Dr. Sandra Biedron, of Chicago; and Michael Leonard, of Lemont.