NKU co-op offers future success for student


Photo courtsey of Habba Siddiqui

Habba Siddiqui (middle) stands with youths who reside in the orphanage.

Since a freshman in high school, Habba Siddiqui took an interest in Criminal Justice. She completed a co-op with Ihsan and St. Joseph’s Orphanage through her Criminal Justice major.

Ihsan, a non-profit organization based in Milford, Ohio, has worked together with St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Since Siddiqui’s biggest motivation in life is to help children, she found this to be the co-op for her. With her mother as a role model she went to an advisor and told her wanted she wanted to do.

Caroline Braden, Coordinator of Undergraduate Programs, instructed her to create a new program. Siddiqui laid out what she intended to do, researched the differences in approaches to females and males, and gave regular updates, which was well beyond what other students have done Braden said.

“She has to be a very bright person to take this program from the ground up. They had nothing like this,” Braden said. “I cannot imagine most undergraduate students taking this on to the extent she did.”

Siddiqui created a reintegration program, which reintroduces individuals in society, for 17-21 year olds for their Independent Living Unit of St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Since Siddiqui has picked up different reactions from both sexes in the system, she implemented differences in treatment. “I was very impressed with her,” Braden said. “It’s a great service to the community.”

Siddiqui, a Pakistani, came to the US at age five, grew up in Kentucky and for the past five years lived in Ohio.  Three and a half years of which she worked at Ihsan. She learned how closely intertwined criminal justice and her area of concentration in psychology were.

Through guidance and goal setting, Siddiqui developed this ongoing program. “I sat down with the project leader and told him my idea and what I had hopes of accomplishing, And he supported me one hundred percent with the idea.” She said.

Basel Saqr, the Executive Director of Ihsan, believes that Siddiqui created a great program. “this should have a great potential,” he said about the program. “If we give them the proper head start and to integrate them into society then that will definitely help them throughout their life. As to how to deal with financial situations, how to look into their future, what does it really mean for them to have a decent sustainable life.”

Not only through this program can individuals gain independence, Saqr also believes that this benefits the community as much as the individuals. Creating this program came from Siddiqui seeing the potential in this children and the need for such Saqr said.

This program fulfills the need that the greater Cincinnati area lacked, steering kids correctly before they enter the system. This program also helps kids in school and finding jobs. “We have a huge population of troubled youth that need some sort of outlet for themselves,” Siddiqui said.

Siddiqui would encourage other non-profits to get involved in this type of work. “I absolutely love my job. It makes me feel great. It gives me the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in my studies at NKU. So I’m very grateful for that opportunity,” Siddiqui said.

Furthermore, she wishes everyone knew that Islam affects the values at Ihsan. “We express our religion through our actions. We were taught to reach a hand out to orphans and children in need in whatever way you can,” Siddiqui said.

With this program and other services, like helping homeless, those in need and the elderly, Ihsan offers everyone is fair and kind. In addition to these services, Ihsan has a Hope Store, which freely provides furniture, clothing, kitchen items etc. to local families in need. These services are to help those people start being self-sufficient.

Siddiqui was highly involved at NKU when she was there. A part of the International Student Association, Muslim Student Association, Asian Student Association and a badminton club. She has traveled to Colorado, California and Nevada to see mountains.

Habaa Siddiqui, Arabic for a “gift from god”, received the nickname “Habba Nero” like the spicy pepper from a girl in high school who thought she was attractive.

“This is the future of our nation. If we all would take time to focus on our youth we could look forward to having a future for ourselves and for our country.” Siddiqui said.

For more information on Ihsan and their efforts visit http://www.ihsanonline.org/