2024 Albert W. Black Award Recipient Announced

Submitted by Therese A. Mcshane on
Ibrahim Burka receiving the Al Black Award from Judith Howard, Professor Emerita, at graduation 2024.

Albert W. Black was a long-time faculty member in the Department of Sociology and retired as an Emeritus Principal Lecturer, the highest instructional rank at the University of Washington. Al was also a recipient of two of the university’s highest awards: the Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Outstanding Public Service Award and received an Outstanding Community Service Award from the Seattle Central Area Chamber of Commerce.                                                                                                                    

The Al Black Award honors a student who demonstrates commitment to community service and civic organizations that support disadvantaged communities. The Department of Sociology is pleased to announce Ibrahim Burka as the recipient of the 2024 Albert Black Award.

Ibrahim exemplifies Al’s commitments. Ibrahim’s family is from the Oromo region of Ethiopia and his father came to United States at the age of seventeen. His family came to Seattle specifically because of the large community from Oromos already living here. 

Ibrahim has talked about the important role the Oromo Cultural Center (OCC) has played in his life, and the lives of many people, and the need it has filled as a community gathering space for the Oromo community.  The Oromo Cultural Center was Ibrahim’s second home – he essentially grew up there. 

It is because of this that Ibrahim wanted to turn his appreciation into service for this community that had given him so much. 

In 2021, early in his college career, Ibrahim began to volunteer at the OCC working on various community events and fundraisers.  But he wanted to do something more enduring.  So, he and a few other volunteers decided to develop an afterschool tutoring program for K-12 students.  This program is remarkably comprehensive, providing college readiness workshops, essay writing, standardized testing prep, financial assistance, and tutoring in key academic subjects.  These after-school sessions now meet twice a week, every week.  The results have been more than they could have dreamed: 6 of their senior students have been admitted into universities across the state, including four directly into the UW.  So, not only will these high school students benefit from Ibrahim and his colleagues important work, but the University of Washington also benefits by having these students become a part of our community.

Ibrahim plans to continue his work with the OCC after graduation.  Ibrahim Burka is a student whose values and accomplishments exemplify Al Black’s commitments and the Department of Sociology offers our deepest congratulations!