Olympic fencer and activist Ibtihaj Muhammad — the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics, and the first Team USA competitor to wear a hijab in the games — will speak at Stanford’s 2019 Baccalaureate, a multi-faith ceremony for graduating students.
“Muhammad teaches us the power of grit and resilience,” Senior Class Presidents Tashrima Hossain ’19, Nick Peña ’19, Tony Moller ’19 and Aron Tesfai ’19 told Stanford News. “She has utilized her platform to empower female athletes, encourage religious tolerance and inspire countless young people.”
Muhammad won a bronze medal with Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics Team Sabre competition. As an individual sabre competitor at the same Olympic Games, she qualified for the second round before being eliminated.
Also in 2016, she was named to Time’s 100 Most Influential People list, with first-ever Muslim House Representative Keith Ellison calling her “one of the best fencers in the world — and an observant Muslim woman.”
In addition to her fencing feats, Muhammad has taken point as a sports ambassador with the U.S. State Department’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative. She founded a clothing company in 2014, and wrote a memoir that was published as two separate books — one for adult audiences and one for younger readers — in 2018.
Muhammad graduated from Duke University with a dual major in international relations and African studies in 2007. As a fencer at Duke, she was a Junior Olympic National Champion and three-time All-American.
Dean for Religious Life Tiffany Steinwert told Stanford News that “Ibtihaj Muhammad has turned the spotlight on diverse American communities, inviting us to reconsider what it means to be part of this pluralist and, at times, fractured nation.”
“Standing at the intersections of gender, religion and ethnicity, [Muhammad] inspires us all not only to break barriers, but also to build bridges,” Steinwart added. “We are delighted to welcome her to campus and look forward to learning from her experience and wisdom.”
Stanford’s 2019 Baccalaureate service — a student-organized event “under the auspices” of the Office of Religious Life — will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. on June 15. Apple CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to speak at Stanford’s 128th Commencement ceremony the following day.
Contact Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.