By Naijla Faizi, DC Middle and High School Program Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of Naijla Faizi
Hi AALEAD Family & Friends!!
I am excited to be your new DC Middle & High School Program Coordinator! Prior to this full-time role at AALEAD, I was most recently the Summer Intern for AALEAD’s DC Middle & High School Summer Program. I had the pleasure of getting to know many of the youth that will be in the after school program this year and learning from the past coordinator, Dia Bui. I can definitely say that this experience prepared me for taking on my new full-time role. I was drawn to Asian American LEAD primarily due to their focus on serving marginalized APA communities. Often times, people seem to forget that minorities and people of color have specific needs, and I believe that AALEAD is doing an amazing job trying to fulfill youth needs through our three outcome areas for APA communities in the DMV.
A little bit about myself: I was born and raised in High Point, NC. I went to college at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement, alongside minors in International Studies and Middle East and South Asia Studies. While my desire to work on youth development may seem unrelated to my religious studies background, it was in fact these religious studies courses that gave me the space to think critically about my identity as a South Asian Muslim American woman in relation to our society. Through my academics I learned about social justice, advocacy for marginalized communities, and the importance of recognizing our relations to one another in our ecosystem of human existence. I firmly believe that we’re all interconnected and the success of our communities is dependent upon the success of all communities, whether that be LGBTQ+, Muslims, African Americans, Asians, Immigrants, Refugees, Women and the list goes on.
While at Wake Forest I was elected the Muslim Student Association President. What began as an extracurricular leadership position quickly transformed into a full-time responsibility as I balanced advocating for more equitable university policies and counseling numerous students who struggled to express their identities on a campus grappling with inclusivity. Yet, despite these challenges, this experience cultivated in me a deep personal and professional commitment toward building the capacity of organizations that serve marginalized communities. This experience, coupled with my year as an AmeriCorps VISTA on my campus supervising student-led tutoring and mentoring organizations, gave me the skill set and passion to continue doing work in youth development, particularly as it relates to youth’s post-secondary success. I am deeply committed to empowering youth to have ownership over their lives and future success, and I’m looking forward to my time with AALEAD and building relationships with the youth I will be serving.
Thank you for allowing me to join your family and extended network!