News & Events
Posted Aug. 26, 2011

Family Funds Scholarship in Memory of Momina Cheema '13

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Rising second-year student Momina Cheema died in a car accident in June. A scholarship was established in her memory.

The family of University of Virginia School of Law student Momina Cheema, a rising second-year who died in a car accident in June, recently established a scholarship to honor their daughter.

The Momina Cheema Memorial Scholarship will be established with $100,000 from the Momina  Cheema Foundation, created  by Cheema’s parents.

“Losing Momina was a terrible blow to the Law School community," said Dean Paul G. Mahoney. "We are deeply grateful for her family’s desire to help future students realize her dream."

The scholarship will be awarded annually once the fund reaches $50,000, with a preference given to students interested in Islamic law and culture.

“Momina was a beloved daughter and sister in our family and we find it very difficult to continue with our lives,” said Muhammad Akhtar Cheema, Momina’s father. “However, we feel so grateful and blessed to have the support of so many of her friends, professors, relatives and even people who have never met her.”

Cheema was born in Pakistan and raised in the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. She graduated from Duke in 2007 with a B.A. in literature and received a master's degree from Harvard’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 2008. At the time of her death, she was working as a judicial intern in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. 

“Momina was truly a brilliant woman, in every way,” said Momina's mother, Tayyeba Zia Cheema. "She was unbelievably hardworking, genuine, loving and wanted to achieve excellence in her life. Her untimely death has been a great loss not only to our family but also to our community.”

Cheema’s friends and classmates said she embodied the UVA spirit. 

“She was so nice to everyone. She always took time out of her day to get to know how people were doing, how they were feeling, what they needed,” said Shruti Chaganti, Cheema’s friend and classmate. “She took pleasure in other people’s successes and brought out the best in others.”

Friends and alumni who wish to contribute to the Momina Cheema Memorial Scholarship fund may make gifts to the University of Virginia Law School Foundation.