Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Zahra. We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
I’m a first-generation student who was born and raised in Chicago. I am very passionate about making a change in the education system. As a person of color, I have experienced a lot of discrimination in school which is why education is so important to me. I plan to continue my studies and become a therapist. My ultimate goal is to have my own mental health clinic where I offer free resources to minorities in Chicago.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
I have a degree in English and Middle-Level Education and am passionate about creating and promoting equity in the school system. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I realized that I also love teaching and decided to do both! Growing up, I never had representation in school. This included the curriculum and the faculty. Certain educators in my past would try to understand the students of color, but they did not do their job of educating themselves. This is what inspired me to pursue education. I saw a gap between teachers of color and wanted to be a part of making a change. The students I have mentored/tutored along the way have motivated me to continue my career. I saw how I was making a community in the classroom and how that impacted the students in a positive way.
What is one thing you are most proud of achieving in your life?
Something I am proud of is achieving my college degree. As a first-generation student, I really faced a lot of obstacles throughout my college experience. I never thought I would have the chance to go to college and I had little to no support. There were times when I was incredibly discouraged and wanted to give up. In those times I remembered that I’m an example for my younger sister and for other first-generation students.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Someone who has helped me get to where I am today was my creative writing professor. I took a class with her during my freshman year of college and she immediately saw my potential as a writer and educator. She pushed me out of my comfort zone and advocated for me in times of need. I had her as a professor for four years and I was able to grow as a writer because of her. She was always my number-one supporter!
What do you enjoy most about teaching/tutoring?
One thing I enjoy the most is the connection I make with students! I find that no matter what the student’s background is, I am able to form a bond with them. Through this, I am able to see how the student grows throughout my time tutoring/teaching them. I also enjoy watching my students achieve their goals. A lot of the students I have had in the past struggle with their sense of self. By working with them, I make sure to highlight their strengths and reassure them that are capable of doing anything they want to do.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy doing anything creative in my free time. In particular, I love writing. I am a poet who has been working on a book for a couple of years now. Writing allows me to process emotions and share my story with others. Writing has been something I have been passionate about since I was little.
The road to success is difficult and requires tremendous dedication. What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
I would tell them to keep dreaming because anything is possible. A lot of the time, we sell ourselves short due to the circumstances we are in. We can’t change those circumstances, but we can use them as a tool to help us be successful. Once I shifted my mindset from “I can’t possibly achieve this” to “I can achieve anything I set my mind to” is when I began to have opportunities that align with my dreams.
What are you most passionate about? Can you share a story?
I’m very passionate about breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma. As a first-generation minority, I am the first in my family to go to therapy and break the toxic cycle. A lot of us have gone through a lot of hardships because of our family lives. I believe that we are the generation that will make a change. This is why I want to eventually be a counselor or social worker at a school.
Please share your favorite Life Lesson quote. How is it relevant to your life?
“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” –Mary Oliver. This quote shows us to live our lives to the fullest. Everything is temporary, and in some ways that is beautiful. Something I would struggle with is living in the moment. This quote reminds me to live and love to the fullest.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a private lunch and why? He/she might just see this! 🙂
I would love to have a private lunch with Halsey! Halsey is a singer and author. She is someone who has inspired me to continue my creative path. She is very passionate about activism and breaking the stigma of talking about mental health. I have listened to her music since the start of her career and have even seen her live! Having lunch with her would be my dream.