BY MOHAMMAD SABRI
My experience at George Mason University has been a rewarding one, but my path in getting here wasn’t always so certain. I came to Mason after attending community college for two years. When it came time to decide where to transfer, I have to admit I held a bit of a grudge against Mason for not accepting me straight out of high school. But as I finish the semester and start to think back on my time here, I realize I owe our school a debt of gratitude. Mason will always be the place where my passion for social activism and community involvement blossomed.
I have always been involved with organizations promoting social change and natural disaster relief. In fact, I’ve been volunteering with Islamic Relief since I was a middle schooler. During my time here I’ve become deeply passionate about refugee advocacy and ending policing violence. I’m currently a member of SEED, Students Engaged in Ending Displacement, an organization that seeks to raise awareness and find solutions about problems facing refugees and people displaced by natural disasters. I also keep busy by being involved in Peacebuilding Fellows, the Muslim Student Association, United Muslim Relief and Dialogue & Difference. Each of these organizations has opened my eyes to the issues and opportunities for our generation.
While I’ve spent most of my time focusing on inequity abroad, it wasn’t until I learned about Teach For America during a class presentation that I considered the challenges of poverty and access here in the United States. My interest in educational inequity had already grown tremendously after hearing the story of Malala Yousafzai. Her story plus the mission of Teach For America inspired me to do my own research and learn more about the disparities that exist in our education. Growing up I was fortunate to attend Loudoun County Public Schools, one of the richest counties in the nation. It was an entirely foreign notion for me that not every student had access to a quality education. Once I learned more, I was hooked. I knew I had to be part of the solution.
For me, teaching will be the beginning of a long career in politics, justice and activism. I am working toward my degree in Conflict Analysis & Resolution so that I can one day help create legislation that will seriously disrupt educational inequity and address other injustices in our society. But before I head into politics, I know how important it is that I gain first-hand experience in the classroom. I hope to model my career after DeRay McKesson, a prominent leader of the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against police brutality. Before McKesson became a social activist, he chose to make his impact in the classroom through Teach For America.
I know I have a long and challenging road ahead of me as a classroom leader. But I also know that, just like everything else I have done in life, nothing worth having comes easy. This time next year, I cannot wait to join the fight to end educational inequity from my Tulsa classroom.
Mohammad Sabri is senior studying Conflict Analysis & Resolution and a member of Students Engaged in Ending Displacement. Sabri is also a 2017 Teach For America-Tulsa corps member.