Football Star Finds Support and
Sense of Purpose On- and Off-Field
When Aymen Aboushi graduated from Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, he had a lot of options. The star defensive lineman was recruited by Columbia, Bucknell, Lehigh and Wake Forest. But after a visit from the Rev. Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., University president, Aboushi knew Fordham was where he belonged.
“My meeting with Father O’Hare had a big impact on me,” Aboushi said. “He let me know I wouldn’t be alone here and that I wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. I was very impressed with the way he talked about academics and the school’s commitment to creating men and women for others. It seemed like the perfect place to get a good education and the chance to excel at football.”
Aboushi has indeed excelled both in the classroom and on the field. He’s graduating with a degree in political science, with a minor in economics. And last fall, in addition to helping lead Fordham to the Patriot League Championship, he was named to the All-Patriot League team.
Rams Coach Dave Clawson said the most impressive thing about Aboushi is his incredible work ethic.
“He made other people better because he worked so hard and forced other people to keep up with him,” Clawson said. “He represents what happened to the entire program. He came in as a freshman and struggled early on, but through hard work he became a very good football player. It’s people like Aymen that allowed us to get better as a program.”
Aboushi has spent the spring working out for several NFL teams, including the New York Giants. But even if he winds up spending his Sundays on the gridiron, he also plans to devote plenty of time to helping people. He’s taking the LSAT in June.
“I want to pursue law regardless of what happens with the NFL,” Aboushi said. “I want to do work for people that can’t afford legal representation. That goes along with the Jesuit commitment.”
Aboushi believes deeply in the Jesuit tradition, even though he isn’t Catholic. He initially had some concerns about how he would be treated as a Muslim at a Catholic university, although those reservations melted away once he arrived on campus.
“It was interesting because I felt very welcome here,” he said. “My faith was not questioned. People were interested. They opened up a dialogue and asked me why Muslims do certain things. Coming to Fordham gave me an opportunity to learn about the Jesuit tradition as well.”
Still, Aboushi faced some difficult times in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“When 9/11 happened there was a lot of suspicion about Muslims,” Aboushi said. “[Jeff] Gray, the vice president for student affairs, helped me a lot. A day or two after the attacks he put his arm around me and said, ‘I understand that these are turbulent times, but don’t worry. I’m here for you. I want you to come to me if you need anything.’”
Aboushi also found a great deal of support in the classroom and at University events. After Sept. 11, Fordham sponsored the Transcending Tragedy lecture series, which approached a variety of issues surrounding the terrorist attacks from many different perspectives.
“The teachers were great, too,” Aboushi said. “They opened up a dialogue in the classroom about the issues and helped dismiss the stereotypes
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