Monmouth Graduate and Syrian Violinist Honored at White House; Performs in D.C.

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Mariela Shaker chosen as Champion for Change at World Refugee Day

Mariela Shaker, a Syrian Violinist whom the Monmouth College community has come to know and love will soon be featured on a national stage in Washington, D.C. She has been chosen by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to serve as a Champion of Change for World Refugee Day and will be honored at the White House on Thursday, June 25.

Mariela Shaker of Aleppo, Syria, who graduated in May shortly after performing her farewell violin recital on campus, will be featured in the “Performing Arts for Everyone” series on the Millennium Stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, introduced by Dr. Clarence Wyatt, Monmouth College President. The performance will take place at 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, June 20.

Shaker was asked to perform at the Kennedy Center by UNHCR, as a featured highlight of World Refugee Day, an event that commemorates the strength, courage and resilience of the millions of people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Shaker’s home city of Aleppo has seen some of the most horrific fighting in the Syrian Civil War.

“There are ambitious students there who have lost hope – lost everything,” said Shaker of her native country, who was one of 18 Syrian students on Monmouth’s campus during the past academic year. “We should put our hands together and put all our efforts toward rebuilding Syria. Rebuilding the infrastructure is just one thing that can be done with our hands, but rebuilding the humanity and deconstructing the antagonism from the minds of the people is another thing that should be done with our hearts.”

Music is one way to do that, she said.

“In Syria, we really are in need of musicians as much as we are in need of engineers and doctors,” Shaker added. “Music is what we need now in order to learn how to give, live and love without borders.”

“Mariela’s story is one of great grace in the face of great adversity,” said Wyatt. “Her musical talent is exceptional, but her unshakable faith that good resides in us all is truly extraordinary. A woman of profound character and courage, Mariela reminds us that the humanity that unites us should outweigh all that seeks to divide us. Monmouth College is proud to have had a small role in the growth of this young woman, and grateful to call her one of our own.”

Shaker’s degree in music from Monmouth was her second undergraduate degree. She previously studied business administration at the University of Aleppo. Shaker served as the concertmaster of the Monmouth College Chamber Orchestra and was a member of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony Orchestra.

A live online broadcast of Shaker’s performance will be available at For more information about Monmouth College visit

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Rebecca Nunes

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