DEARBORN — It's very unusual to hear of Arab American females from the community pursuing their college careers out of state, but a recent Harvard graduate and a newly accepted Yale University student have allowed the Arab American News to share their stories in an effort to encourage other Arab women in the community to follow suit.
|Amanda Jawad, the 24-year-old Harvard Law School graduate says she’s excited to start working for a |
New York law firm later this year.
"You won't believe how many people come up to me and say they are proud of me," Jawad stated. "Knowing that I had that much support from the community was really something that surprised me and motivated me."
After getting accepted into Harvard in 2009, Jawad moved to Boston in order to focus on her studies near campus. She says that despite the move, she was still very close to her community. While living in an apartment with a roommate, she still found the time to return home every other month for occasions like weddings and holidays. Jawad states that her time at Harvard was challenging, but it had nothing to do with being an Arab American.
"It was just very challenging in general, it's just a whole other world, being in law school," she stated. "I didn't encounter any obstacles because of my race, but one positive aspect of this whole experience was that I was proud to show people that I was an Arab-American."
Jawad says that she knew of other Arab-Americans at Harvard, but there were very few of them.
"I only knew a few other Arabs, and that was honestly very disappointing to me. We should be represented more in higher education," she stated. "My advice to other girls in our community is to not be scared. It's important to get out of Dearborn and teach the world what Arab Americans are all about. Every individual girl will learn so much and grow so much from an experience like this. There are problems in our community and you can go out and learn something and then bring it back home."
Jawad says that she will continue to strive for more. She plans on moving to New York later this year to work for a law firm in their litigation department. She then plans on coming back to Michigan in hopes for working with the federal or state government as a prosecutor. She says she is also interested in issues related to Islamic Family Law.
|Mary Turfah, the 17-year-old from Dearborn Heights who just got accepted into Yale University, will attend the school this fall.|
The daughter of Dr. Fouad Turfah, a colorectal and general surgeon from Oakwood Hospital, Turfah says that Arab females who wear a headscarf should not feel intimidated to attend universities in other states. She says that Yale University is very flexible when it comes to her religious needs.
"It's a pretty friendly environment. There is a decent amount of Muslims that attend the school, but they are mostly of Pakistani or Saudi Arabian decent," she stated. "They have a few hijabeh girls there and they are very accomidating to our needs. If they know you are Muslim you can request to be in an all female dorm."
Turfah says that she is dissapointed that more females from the community don't travel out of state to pursue a college education. She says she knows plenty of other friends who had good grades as well, but they wouldn’t even apply to schools as close as the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, because they thought even that was too far from home.
"Honestly, i don't understand why more girls from our community don't do this. It's okay for the guys to go away for education so it should be okay for girls as well. They need to wake up and realize that this is the real world and if they want security then they need to do it themselves and not rely on guys," Turfah added.
Turfah attributes her high school education to being able to go away for college. She attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, a private college prep boarding institution where she was the valedictorian of her class. She states that being a student at the school helped her expand from the "Dearborn bubble" and gave her an open mind about other cultures.
"People in the community don't understand other cultures and other traditions. We should stop judging other people based on what we see on TV and in movies...It makes us ignorant," Turfah stated. "The community can't really move forward if people are going to continue to be hesistant to take that step and go out into the world."
Turfah also expressed interest in studying abroad in France, something that she hopes she can do one year during her summer break.