See you at C U

As an Arab woman of color, a Muslim woman who wears hijab, people have an assumption about me. They assume that I will be the quiet, barefoot and pregnant type, submissive to an elderly husband’s demands, and with no ambitions of my own. These stereotypes about Middle Eastern women have always baffled me, as I have a woman cousin who is in her last year at the University of Alexandria’s Engineering program. I have aunts who are teachers. Naturally, in my New York City public school, these stereotypes are perpetuated often. As a rising Senior, I am in the run to be class Valedictorian. Even so, no one has ever expected much from me in terms of where I would go to college. Everyone, myself included, assumed I’d end up at Hunter College. Well, simply to get my family off my back, I applied to quite a few “reach” schools, ones I’d never thought I’d get into. NYU, Brandeis University, and Columbia University. When people would ask where I applied, I’d tell them and they’d often laugh at me, asking things like “Where’d I get the balls to apply to an Ivy?” and “Do you really think you’d make it into schools like that?” Well, as it happens, I ended up getting full scholarships to NYU and Brandeis University. Soon thereafter, I got a call from Columbia University saying that they want to interview me for a scholarship. I went to the interview, thinking no way I’d get it. Then, on March 31st, the first day at a Fellowship close to the University, standing outside it’s gates right off the train, I got my acceptance letter with a 70 thousand dollar a year scholarship included.