Rameen

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My name is Rameen Awan and I am a student, photographer, and avid science nerd pursuing a double major in Spanish and Cell & Molecular Neuroscience. Along with my passion for science, I’m a fanatic of the fine arts. Aside from photography, I adore sketching, music, and singing and have been playing the violin since I was four. Personally speaking, art is perhaps one of the most liberating passions one could take on — there’s something so eloquent in how there are really no set rules or limits to it, what exactly to do, or when to do it. When a spark of creativity buzzes, it’s nagging to be heard, as though there’s the voice in the back of your head, desperate to be released into the world.

When a spark of creativity buzzes, it’s nagging to be heard, as though there’s the voice in the back of your head, desperate to be released into the world.  

Along with my identities as a scientist and artist, I am also a Pakistani-American Muslim woman. My parents moved to the United States from Pakistan after getting married and had my older sister, myself, and my younger brother. Throughout my childhood, my mother was the most prominent woman in my life. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I reflect on my upbringing up until now, the many roles she carried seem insurmountable, but my mother never made us feel like we were too much for her to handle. She is perhaps the strongest as well as one of the most creative women I know, and I can undoubtedly attribute all of my creative energy to come from her as well. In my life, my older sister has also been a powerful role model for me as well. She has always been one of the most confident people I know and she’s truly found the perfect career path for her studying Marketing. To see her overcome the various challenges this career path has brought her, being one of the few women of color in this field, is incredible and I’m constantly in awe of how she consistently carries herself with dignity and poise in such a competitive world.

These two teachers were so unapologetically themselves and spoke their minds when they felt their voices needed to be heard and through these qualities, I began to truly see what it meant to be an empowered woman that empowers other women. 

For years, I’ve taken inspiration from the women in my life, such as my mother and my sister, and early on in highschool, I had two female teachers who I believe made a significant impact on how I view myself as a woman as well as how I view the world. These two teachers were so unapologetically themselves and spoke their minds when they felt their voices needed to be heard and through these qualities, I began to truly see what it meant to be an empowered woman that empowers other women.

As I spent more time with them over the years, I developed a new found confidence and I believe it allowed me to become unafraid to step forward as a leader in highschool. I became a co-leader of the Empowered Women Club as well as the president of the Multicultural Club, which both served as a fun and safe place for all students to come together, share their ideas, and create connections with peers they may have otherwise never met. The Empowered Women club especially provided a forum for the girls as well as a number of boys in our school to have various discussions regarding issues in our own community as well as in society as a whole, whether it be related to feminism, politics, the environment or anything in between. However, after a few years of operation, what I found to be incredibly frustrating was that the club was being threatened by the school administration due to a group of boys who mockingly wanted to start their own club titled “Empowered Men.” We fought to keep the club running, demonstrating its positive impact it had for the students of the school, but despite our months of efforts to save it, ultimately our little community was disbanded. Still, as I reflect back on the experience over the years, I’m grateful for the community that I had with my peers and how it allowed me to grow out of my shell and gain confidence in my ability to speak my mind. These various anecdotes amongst multiple others are part of the reason I have the courage to be who I am today and over time made me realize that just as my passions or creativity is personal and my own, my experiences are as well, and no one can really tell me how I should feel about them.

The Empowered Women club especially provided a forum for the girls as well as a number of boys in our school to have various discussions regarding issues in our own community as well as in society as a whole, whether it be related to feminism, politics, the environment or anything in between.

As I grow, these parts of my identity will continue to evolve and change, allowing me to see the world from a new lens based on the people I meet and the things I do. And just as the women in my life have inspired me, I hope to inspire and encourage other women to speak up and be confident. I hope to inspire girls to not compare themselves to other women or try to be someone they’re not. To you, reader, you’ve heard a snippet of my story, so be unafraid to write your own. Find your passions, your voice, your journey and always remember to unapologetically be yourself. Through the lessons I’ve learned thus far, these are perhaps some of the most important that the women throughout my life have taught me. This is how the women who made me, made me.

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