Karima Burns, '14

Graceland student Karima Burns `14

Accomplishment: Meeting people from over 60 countries

Major: World History/Political Science

House: Sariah

Karima Burns, a Washington, D.C. native, knew she wanted to go “somewhere small” for college, but had no idea that would mean moving halfway across the country to rural Iowa.

When Karima made a leap of faith and chose Graceland, she arrived in Lamoni at midnight in the midst of a snowstorm, having never before traveled further west than Ohio. Fortunately for Karima, Graceland turned out to be the right school for her. 

When Karima first arrived, Graceland’s house system was instrumental in making the Midwest newcomer feel welcome. “It was very helpful as a freshman, coming from halfway across the country and not knowing anyone, to automatically meet 30 new girls and have people to bond with right away,” said Karima. “It was a great experience for me, because it really gives you a connection to a brand-new place you didn’t have before. We have a saying at Graceland: ‘You belong here simply because you are here.’ And I believe in that statement.”

Karima has found many opportunities to indulge her love of performance at Graceland, including Graceland’s Got Talent and the annual Hope Speeches event. She has also been president of the Black Student Union for two years, historian for the Historical Society, a member of the International Club, and the Senate representative for Sariah House.

Karima has flourished academically at Graceland, taking nearly every world history course taught by Dr. Steven Glazer—with her favorite so far being the Palestine-Israel Conflict. But for Karima, her biggest accomplishment has been social: “I’m from a big city, yet I had to come to a small town in Iowa to meet people from around the globe,” said Karima. “I think I’ve met students from over 60 countries since I’ve been here.”

On the horizon for Karima is an internship with Scott Ourth, an Iowa State Representative and Graceland alum. After graduation, she plans to attend either law school or graduate school for political science. She sees herself working in the field of politics, most likely behind-the-scenes as a member of a campaign staff. But whatever Karima chooses to do, she knows she has support from the Graceland community. “People here care about you in a way that you can’t find in a big city,” said Karima. “I know that they always have my best interests at heart and are looking out for me.”