AMES student coordinates empowerment week
Jun 18, 2018 03:20PM
● By Julie Slama
Iman Ibrahim, a junior at the Academy of Math, Engineering and Science who was a student leader at the national walk-out day, planned a week of empowerment to help her classmates learn to stand up for their beliefs. (Jennifer Tellez/AMES)
By Julie Slama | firstname.lastname@example.org
“We need to see the change we can be.”
Those are the words of Iman Ibrahim, a junior at the Academy of Math, Engineering and Science.
Iman organized an empowerment week at her school that, among other activities, brought in local and state leaders to listen to students express concerns.
“Students are passionate about issues, so this gave us a chance to express ourselves and embrace the opportunities we have to address those who represent us,” she said. “AMES prepares us. Our voice is valuable and should be heard.”
Iman, along with junior Jasmine Draper, thought of ideas and planned events, including a panel discussion with State Sen. Jim Dabakis, Rep. Carol Spackman Moss and Salt Lake County Deputy Mayor Karen Hale.
“We had students speak with them and have a one-on-one discussion,” Iman said. “They were impressed and said that it is up to us students to be the ones to shape change.”
School safety is among the issues they discussed.
“Do I not deserve to live? Or to go to school to get an education without being terrified that an intruder could come into my school and cause mass hysteria?” asked the self-described student activist. “I’ve already felt I’ve been living with a target on my back as a person of color, a Muslim, a woman and as a student — and all I’m trying to do is pursue an education, so I don’t need to worry about being shot in school.”
Iman said several students expressed similar concerns for gun control, race and gender treatment and equality, and their safety.
“I’ve grown up in an unfair world of America, and we can demand change for equality of all,” she said. “And we can stand up for what is right. Citizens do have the right to protect themselves, but why do we need to have a military grade weapon available? It’s ridiculous that at age 18, someone can buy a gun to hunt someone down or end kids’ lives.”
Iman said much of her strength comes from her hero, her mother.
“My mother — I admire her,” she said. “She was so generous and helped people who were in need even though we were struggling ourselves. She taught us compassion and how to serve others. She told me that ‘you’re going to change the world.’”
Iman already is putting that message to heart. Along with the panel discussion, the empowerment week she organized for her peers included getting students registered to vote and allowing students to express themselves through art.
“I know I made an impact, as more students are expressing themselves, and now many more are able to vote,” she said. “We, as the younger generation, have the power to want change, express change, demand change and take a stand.”
Iman’s school principal, Brett Wilson, said he is supportive of students.
“They have the right to have their voice,” he said. “They’re learning through their voice, they can change things.”
On her own, Iman isn’t forgetting the lessons her mother taught her. She continues to help in the refugee community, as her mother did, and she volunteers at the local hospital and at the YWCA women’s shelter. She is involved in organizing activities for the homeless youth, is a mentor for Real Life and is planning to go on a humanitarian trip to Cambodia to bring health supplies and feminine products to students.
Iman, who is an honor student, plans to become a pediatric surgeon to “change lives in the world.”
“I’ve learned I can make an impact and that I am valuable, I am worthy of love and deserve respect,” she said. “I’ve been discriminated against, but I still can express my views and have the right to live and to be safe. I hope my peers realize the same thing.”