Zacharea Katerji holds his family and religion first in his life. Islam defines him as a person and a Muslim. His parents were both raised in Syria. While Zacharea was born in the U.S., he visited their homeland frequently. He lived most of his years in Illinois, though finds the Middle Eastern culture as a big part of who he is.
After experiencing a sense of discomfort in two public high schools, Zacharea decided to attend Universal, a Muslim private school in Bridgeview, Illinois. He completed the last two years of his studies there. His time at Universal helped bring out all of the qualities that he now has, some of which are leadership and a developed faith in his religion. During his senior year at Universal, Zacharea was a team-member on the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) competition where the school earned 4th place in the state. Zacharea also volunteered at a Saturday school and helped teach Arabic, Islamic Studies, and Quran to children. Though, the most significant event in his life took place during his high school senior trip. It was then when the class went to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, during a period of Ramadan, to perform the pilgrimage. This trip affected him by allowing him to get closer to his faith and Creator.
As a student at Loyola University, Zacharea majored in finance in addition to fulfilling the requirements for pre-med. He is completing his education within approximately three years while remaining on the dean’s list. Zacharea is currently the Muslim Students Association (MSA) president, a demanding position that has further strengthened his skills in leadership. Dedication to his faith and beliefs has given him the distinguished honor of introducing Eboo Patel at the 2010 freshman convocation, as well as the opportunity to represent Loyola at an interfaith conference sponsored by the White House and held in Washington D.C. Zacharea has worked with Chris Murphy, Patti Ray and others to help bring interfaith initiatives to campus. This year after overcoming several obstacles he helped create the Loyola group “Students for Justice in Palestine” which recognizes key principles grounded in international law and human rights as fundamental to a just resolution of the plight of the Palestinians.
While Zacharea is keeping his options open in the area of business and management, his future aspirations include going to medical school and continuing his studies in Arabic and Islam.