The University of Notre Dame, Keough School of Global Affairs, and South Bend communities mourn the passing of Asmaa El Messnaoui, a graduate of the school’s master of global affairs (MGA) program. Asmaa passed away June 15 following a cycling accident in Iowa.
Born in Morocco to a faith leader and scholar of traditional Islam, Asmaa earned her master’s degree in 2019 as a member of the Keough School’s inaugural class. Her studies were facilitated by a fellowship from the school’s Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion.
Before coming to the Keough School, Asmaa worked as a requirements engineer in the private sector. She was the founder and president of a local nongovernmental organization that strives to promote community service and citizenship among young people.
During her time as a student at the Keough School, Asmaa accompanied undergraduate students participating in the Madrasa Discourses program on a dialogue trip to Doha, Qatar. Following graduation, she worked as a program manager for the Ansari Institute, where she helped to organize multiple conferences as well as a 2020 student trip to Oman.
During her time in South Bend, Asmaa volunteered regularly in the local community and was known for her heartfelt public speaking. In 2020, she was chosen to deliver the invocation during Notre Dame’s annual luncheon for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, where she spoke about the importance of diversity, drawing on her Muslim faith.
Mohammed Sirajuddin, who serves as imam of the Islamic Society of Michiana, recalled how Asmaa once delivered a beautiful speech during Ramadan about the virtues of those who memorize the Qur’an. At the first women’s international tea hosted by the Islamic Society of Michiana in 2018, she eloquently represented the hospitality culture of Morocco to participants.
In 2020, she married her husband, Daniel Brockett Jr., in a private ceremony in South Bend before moving to Iowa to be with him. She had recently begun work as a program specialist for the University of New Mexico’s Project ECHO, which works to reduce health disparities worldwide. She is survived by her husband, parents, and five siblings.
“I can think of very few people so generous of spirit and full of life as Asmaa,” said Mahan Mirza, executive director of the Ansari Institute. “The world was too small to contain her. May she be welcomed home to gardens of eternal bliss in the sublime shade of God’s mercy. To God we belong, and to God we return.”