Women's Forum, Inc. of New York - Education Fund Fellows
2016 Women's Forum Fellow

Awatef Ibrahim
LaGuardia Community College

2016 Women's Forum/Macy's Inc. Fellow

Awatef and her parents arrived in this country from Cairo, Egypt when she was four years old. She was born to study and learn, and graduated from high school at 16 with excellent grades. Her elders always taught that life is full of obstacles and only the persistent and confident person would succeed. That persistence and confidence would report for duty two decades later.

Excited to enter college and earn a degree, Awatef was barely into her first semester when the family decided that she would return to Egypt and be married. Ten years and three children later, she once again left the land of her birth and returned to New York. As the English speaking parent, she struggled to ease the children's transition into the NYC school system. She joined every committee she could to be able to navigate the system and understand options available for newly arrived students. She learned that Arabic speaking students had few teachers who could help them, so she became their advocate. This experience inspired her to pursue a degree in Education – Teaching English as a Second Language.

Although Awatef had always dreamt of a college degree, she was hesitant about going back at an older age. Enter persistence and confidence. She is on track with a high GPA and an unblinking eye on her goal. She is also proud to share that her daughter will also be attending college this semester!

"I believe that there needs to be more resources available to ...young students who already feel lost in a new country and not speaking the language. We shouldn't leave them helpless in their classrooms just because of the language barrier."