Umbereen

 

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Hey there! My name is Umbereen and I am currently in grad school studying to become a history teacher. I pride myself on being a HUGE ice cream lover – my goal is to try each and every flavor from Ben & Jerry’s! I’m originally from Queens, NY I moved to Monroe, NJ when I was super young – around 6 years old.

UmbreenFor me, there is no doubt about it – my mother is and has been the number one influence in my life. She has taught me a great deal about being true to myself and my roots. I feel like I am able to have conversations with her that I can’t have with anyone else. We talk about deep and empowering topics that make me think and reflect. Even when I was a kid, she would always tell me that the friends I chose would have a huge impact on who I became, as well as the leadership skills I would develop. To this day, I hold that lesson to heart because the people around you truly do have an influence on you more than anything. Overall, no matter what choices I have ever made, my mother has always been there to support and guide me.

One thing I find unique about my mother, especially in the Muslim community, is the fact that she is a huge activist for being environmentally conscious.

One thing I find unique about my mother, especially in the Muslim community, is the fact that she is a huge activist for being environmentally conscious. She has most certainly impacted my view on the environment as well by realizing it’s the small things we do that make the biggest impact. Growing up, I have witnessed her recycle, conserve, plant, be kind to the animals, feed the birds, and connect with nature in meaningful ways. There was Islamic wisdom behind it all, and this really left an impact on me growing up and how I interacted with my surroundings.

As if she wasn’t superwoman enough, my mother was also a pediatrician. Seeing her apply those skills and knowledge to help children she would treat was also so heartwarming, especially because I would see her apply those qualities as a mother. She values her education and her surroundings. This is why I have the utmost respect for her. 

Sana was the only person to give me the strength and conviction to start wearing it. My family fortunately never forced or pressured me in any way, which is a blessing. I remember Sana telling me “If you start now, it’ll be easy for you because it will be a large part of who you are”, and I thought about that a lot.

Aside from my mother, my older cousin Sana (who I’ve known since I was a baby) was a  huge influence on my deciding to wear the headscarf. I was a teenager when I decided to put it on for good, and at the time, I was questioning a lot of things, including the hijab and if it was meant for me. Sana was the only person to give me the strength and conviction to start wearing it. My family fortunately never forced or pressured me in any way, which is a blessing. I remember Sana telling me “If you start now, it’ll be easy for you because it will be a large part of who you are”, and I thought about that a lot. I knew wearing the headscarf was not an easy thing at all – it was a completely new chapter of my life. I eventually chose to wear it, and I could not have done it without her moral support.

51919 2As a history teacher, I often look back to my inspiration. My biggest source of guidance for my career was my own high school history teacher, Ms. Schwartz. She would always say the reason why teaching history is important is because of everything that is happening in the world right now. Today’s generations need to know the victories and losses of our past, and it is a teacher’s job to mold future leaders who will make history tomorrow. I remember she taught the content in such a way that was made relevant to each and every one of us. By giving examples of how events in the past often repeat themselves, she taught us that silence leads to violence, and we should not be the next bystanders in history enabling the same mistakes. She forced me to ask myself how I could make a difference. Her thought-provoking questions, words, and lesson plans made me feel like I had a responsibility to act as a critical civic participant of our society, thus contributing to the betterment of our country. It is because of this reason I want to be a history teacher and aspire to give my students the same kind of agency.

Her thought-provoking questions, words, and lesson plans made me feel like I had a responsibility to act as a critical civic participant of our society, thus contributing to the betterment of our country. It is because of this reason I want to be a history teacher and aspire to give my students the same kind of agency.

Women overall have it the hardest today- especially Women of Color. It’s for this reason that I feel like competing against one another only hurts us. My mother, my cousin, and my history teacher have taught me that. I don’t know who I would be without their influence and I know for a fact that they shaped my identity. In the ways they have inspired me, I feel that I too have a responsibility as a woman to support other females, whether it means supporting my friends and loved ones to accomplish their own goals, or pushing my future female students to become the next president, scientist, doctor, social worker, or leader to build the next generation of powerful women. I want to witness and be a part of women building one another up. We all have a responsibility to give each other a hand to rise up and break barriers together.

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