Student Receives Visionary Women Peace Award: Bouchekouk Recognized for Her Civic Devotion

Photo Credit / Leila Bouchekouk A long-time Rotary Youth Leadership Award volunteer and Rotary president is recognized for her devotion.

Lauren Hernandez

Staff Writer

Leila Bouchekouk is a chemistry major with minors in Spanish and public health here at ESU, and she has won the Visionary Women–Champions of Peace & Nonviolence award. She hails right from here in East Stroudsburg, and she is a first-generation college student.

Bouchekouk first heard about the award through the Stroudsburg Rotarians, members of the Rotary club, through the internet. A member of the club, who is also part of the Monroe County Women’s Commission, encouraged her to apply. Being a follower of the commission since their formation, Bouchekouk was ecstatic.

“Applying and eventually receiving the news that I will be recognized is extremely humbling,” said Bouchekouk. “I am very conscious that my path today as a student, aspiring physician, and young advocate is possible because of the women who came before me both in my own family but also in our community. I sit on the shoulders of some amazing women!”

This award means everything to her.

“Being recognized as a young champion of peace and nonviolence is incredible, to say the least. I believe in the possibility of approaching all problems through nonviolence, and the concept of peace itself is not an unattainable ideal” said Bouchekouk. “It really does start with all of us and how we treat ourselves and one another. I always said, if you take care of yourself, the person to your left, and the person to your right, the whole world would be taken care of!”

Within one month of attending ESU, Bouchekouk managed to nominate our school to be chosen to screen Leonardo DiCaprio’s Before the Flood documentary through National Geographic. All of the proceeds were donated to the East Stroudsburg Salvation Army.

Bouchekouk helps lead to Rotaract and the Student Government Association. She is four semesters strong as president of Rotaract. Rotaract focuses on community service, and Bouchekouk has accomplished a lot with it. The International Peace Day Commemoration, where students create chalk murals promoting peace has been going on annually for two years, and Bouchekouk helped make it happen. She also helped with the Cards for Humanity, an event where students created cards to give to local shelters, which has also been held annually for two years.

Leila Bouchekouk is the secretary of the Student Government Association. She helped organize the March for Our Lives Walk Out Event on our very campus. The walkout was supposed to advocate against gun violence and gun reform.

Bouchekouk found her passion for advocacy while working with the United Nations. Her time in high school was spent with the social justice and global citizenship group called UN ASPIRE South, which stands for Action by Students to Promote Innovation and Reform through Education. Bouchekouk was a panelist for UN ASPIRE at the United Nations Academic Impact Third and Fourth Anniversary with UN personnel to assist in bridging mental health gaps and inequalities.

She also was elected to be one of six hundred participants to attend Malala Day, which celebrates Malala Yousafzai’s first appearance after being attacked by the Taliban. Bouchekouk even published an article on a Malala blog titled “Dear Malala: When you told your story, it reminded me of my own.”

For the last 6 years, Bouchekouk has been part of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) conference. RYLA provides a leadership conference with a volunteer staff working to build self-confidence, promote community, discuss prejudices and privileges within society and explain the importance of service to young participants through action. Bouchekouk personally trains the staff to support all those who attend.

Bouchekouk has also founded the “Type One to Type None” project that focuses on educating the community of diabetes and fundraising for the cure of juvenile diabetes. There have been presentations, clubs in local schools, the city-wide Stroudsburg Diabetes Walk and a short film to help bring attention to the condition. The short film made its grand debut at East Stroudsburg High School South.

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