News from the Week of April 29th

CNN spent a year interviewing more than one hundred American Muslims, asking who they think are the most influential members of their faith in their fields. Check out the list, which includes Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, Congressman Keith Ellison, to Imam Suhaib Webb, known as the “Snapchat imam.”

Former NFL player Husain Abdullah is combating discrimination against the African-American and Muslim communities in Dallas. With his two older brothers, Abdullah founded the Ashab Network, an organization working to connect the diverse Muslim American community by driving around the country for personal, face-to-face meetings with others. “It’s a network of good companionship for spiritual and human development, supporting one another to spread good,” Abdullah says.

Despite states like Idaho and Wyoming facing grave shortages of trained physicians, refugees with medical training are being prevented from working in their field in the United States. Marwan Sweedan, who worked as a trauma surgeon in Ramadi before fleeing Iraq, had to start his “education” over when he arrived stateside. On top of the years of study and work he completed back home, he now has to study for five hours after work every day, and then, if he’s lucky, he’ll secure a spot in a residency program. "The only way to practice medicine now in the United States is to start all over,” says Dr. Scott Smith with the Veterans Administration Hospital in Boise. “Surprisingly some of them want to do all that.”

Mandy Manning of Spokane teaches English to refugee and immigrant students from all over the world. On Wednesday, she received the National Teacher of the Year Award, an honor the president bestows each year to an outstanding American educator. "The students I teach...are dedicated and focused,” Ms. Manning said in an interview. “They make the United States the beautiful place that it is.”

When combat veteran Brandon Friedman moved to Dallas last year, he found a new mission: working with military veterans and farmers in post-conflict countries to deliver “the best loose-leaf tea you’ve never had.” As founder and CEO of Rakkasan Tea Company, Friedman was inspired to recreate the way he learned to drink tea while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Rakkasans. “We think this company can give back to veterans that sense of mission, that they’re helping to make the world a better place,” says Friedman. He recommends their Vietnamese black tea. Cheers!

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