'I Want Every Girl Who's Been Portrayed in a Cliché Image to Rebel:' Meet SIPA Student Yomna Gaafar

Meet Yomna Hatem Abdelhami Gaafar (SIPA'22), who is from Cairo, Egypt, and pursuing an MPA Dual Degree from the School of International and Public Affairs.

December 08, 2021

Columbia student Yomna Hatem Abdelhami Gaafar (SIPA'22) hails from Cairo, Egypt, and is studying for an MPA Dual Degree in International Economic Policy and Data Analytics & Quantitative Analysis.

Earlier this fall, University Photographer Eileen Barroso came across Gaafar and grabbed a few photos for our recurring Instagram series #ColumbiaStories.

Learn more about Gaafar below. 

What is your favorite place in your hometown?

Aswan. It is a charming city on the banks of the Nile River. Once you get to know the Nubian people and experience their traditions, you will find them one of the most genuine, kind, and welcoming people you will ever meet. That’s the true beauty of the magical city of Aswan.

What is your favorite place in New York City?

I love visiting Little Italy in New York City to experience the warm Italian vibes with the street decorations, music, and dancing. I also enjoy some of the best food in the city, especially the cannolis with the different sizes, and the tasty pizza pies.

What is your Columbia story?

I want to challenge and break stereotypes. I want every girl who's been portrayed in a cliché image to rebel and go against what society forces her to believe. I always believed in the importance for girls to learn how to be bold enough to use their voice and strong enough to live up to their potential even if they feel challenged; feel the fear and do it anyway.

What is your passion?

My passion is to pay it forward to the world, especially in areas where people are less fortunate and do not have access to the same resources I did while growing up. This is my personal drive and I hope that one day I would be able to say that “I lived a life of service to others."


#ColumbiaStories are photos taken by University Photographer Eileen Barroso as she selects Columbians to photograph across the university. You can find more on Instagram