Graduate Profile: Lubna Azmi

Johns Hopkins University,
Class of 2023

Lubna Azmi Finds Balance of Learning, Doing, and Giving Through Johns Hopkins University’s Kessler Scholars Program

When she joined the first cohort of Kessler Scholars at Johns Hopkins University in 2020, Lubna Azmi did not foresee the breadth of impact this program would have on her postsecondary experience. She quickly found that the Kessler Scholars program  afforded her access to people, spaces, resources, and opportunities that would enhance all aspects of her college education, including the one closest to her heart: giving back to her community while attending college full-time.

“Kessler gave me the space and support to dream and implement [those] dreams in a tangible way,” Lubna says now, as she prepares to  graduate from Johns Hopkins University later this month with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and International Studies with minors in Islamic and Film/Media Studies. 

When Lubna arrived on campus four years ago, she knew that community activism was her passion. And she understood that, for her, learning about community organizing wasn’t enough. She wanted to be out in the world, doing the work. She quickly discovered that the Kessler Scholars could help her realize her vision, encouraging students to explore high-impact experiential learning opportunities that support their success, including in service.

“Through her scholarship and activism, she leads the way in promoting positive change.”

Brent Fujioka, Ph.D.

Kessler Scholars Program Director

John Hopkins University

The Kessler Scholars program also focuses on providing students with opportunities to give back to the community, recognizing this drives many first generation college students to pursue higher education. As a Kessler Scholar, Lubna could  balance real-world work and the pursuit of a four-year degree.

And the opportunity arose when the COVID-19 pandemic struck early in her college career. Lubna responded at a time of great need for her community. While home in Manassas, Virginia, during the pandemic, Lubna cofounded Prince William County Mutual Aid.  The organization supports families with financial needs, and advocates for criminal justice reform specifically towards defunding police and funding social service initiatives. Last summer, she worked to expand the organization’s mutual aid operations by recruiting new organizers, and the organization continues its work today. 

According to Brent Fujioka, Director of Kessler Scholars at Johns Hopkins University, Lubna exemplifies the program’s dedication to academic excellence and public service, at both the institutional and community levels. 

“Lubna represents the very best of what we work to cultivate with the Kessler Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins University,” he says. “She exemplifies academic excellence, actualizes leadership, and puts theory into practice with her dedication to public service and humanistic endeavors.” 

He continues: “Her organizing work has been a continual source of inspiration for those in the Kessler Scholars community. Through her scholarship and activism, she leads the way in promoting positive change throughout Maryland and Virginia.”

The Kessler Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins focuses on supporting first-generation students who are pursuing degrees in the social sciences or humanities, a distinctive space of support at an institution where many existing student success resources focus on science and mathematics. Fujioka notes that the Kessler Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins has had the good fortune of supporting Lubna on this journey, including helping her to identify and apply for opportunities that align with her interests and enhance the work that she is engaged in. 

After graduation, Lubna will be part of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, a nine-month program aimed at producing a new generation of leaders and change-makers—a natural progression that will further strengthen the community activism and leadership experience she built during her time as a Kessler Scholar. 

Read more about the Class of 2023 and the impact of the Kessler Scholars Program, or connect with us at