Mohamed Shaaban Humanitarian Award

The Department of Biology at VCU has instituted a new award honoring Mohamed Gamal Shaaban Ibrahim (1992-2013, VCU Biology Class of 2013) by recognizing students who display an exceptional commitment to service. While at VCU, Mohamed showed extraordinary leadership and caring as one of the co-founders of “Emerging Healthcare Leaders of VCU” and “United 2 Heal” ( Mohamed also was involved in the Muslim Student Association, the African Student Union, and the VCU Honors College. He was one of VCU’s first “Global Ambassadors,” a program designed to help international students transition to college life in the United States.

Mohamed Shaaban’s generous spirit was evident in all of his interactions. His friends often referred to him as an “everyday hero” because of his infectious enthusiasm and his unwavering belief that we can all make a difference. Mohamed always focused on seeing the good in others and encouraged us all to value every moment of our lives. He serves as an ongoing inspiration to biologists and the entire VCU community.

In selecting winners for the Mohamed Shaaban Humanitarian Award, the Department of Biology seeks to find students who, like Mohamed, inspire us to do more, help others, and strive to make a real difference.

Picture of Mohamed Shaaban, 1992-2013

Kevin Ghaffari

Kevin Ghaffari | 2016

Kevin Ghaffari co-founded I RISE (, an organization that seeks to increase student awareness of the issues facing our homeless community and to develop a model that helps these individuals in a holistic and long-lasting way.

Kevin was presented with the Mohamed Shaaban Humanitarian Award at the 2016 Spring Commencement Ceremony as a current graduate student.

Sahil Aggarwal 

Sahil Aggarwal | 2016

Sahil Aggarwal was a co-founder of PENdulum Global(, a nonprofit organization that works to empower vulnerable adolescents to become leaders through mentorship, education, and service projects.  Sahil is now a medical student at the University of California at Irvine, and he continues to work with PENdulum Global.  

Sahil was awarded the Mohamed Shaaban Humanitarian Award at the 2016 Spring Commencement Ceremony as an alumnus. He was unable to attend the ceremony due to the work he has been doing in Tanzania on HIV stigma research.