Sara. A. Ahmed found her comfort and purpose in religion early, but how it shaped her life has continuously evolved. In her story, she shares how she aspires to be a leader for Muslim women and humanitarians everywhere. As a passionate scholar, professional, and community leader, Sara supports humanitarian and human rights causes through international development projects. Competing with 60,000 Egyptian candidates, Sara was sponsored twice by the American Government for two prestigious scholarships awards to pursue her education as a Fulbright scholar in the United States.
My name is Sara A. Ahmed. I am a disruptive leader, human rights advocate and a highly motivated Master of Public Administration graduate. I have a focus on philanthropy, government relations, Middle East studies, women and gender equality and empowerment causes to ensure equal economic, education and public policy inclusion.
As a passionate Fulbright Scholar, professional and community leader, I support humanitarian and human rights causes through international development projects. I handle projects that involve government, private and public agencies in Egypt, the U.S., Pakistan, Canada, Syria and Algeria. I was featured in the NH Union Leader and the American Friends Service Committee for supporting resettlement efforts for refugees. I believe that freedom, dignity, and equality are challenges that can be addressed with a multicultural understanding between nations – one of the things that guides me to that belief is my faith.
For as long as I remember, even as a child, I closely observed my beloved father, thanking God for the good and the bad in him. During this time, I always wondered how one could praise God while in pain or distress. Years later, while completing my degree far away from my home country, I lost my father without seeing him. That is when I realized how thanking God while in pain is constructive, no matter how hard it may seem.
My religious journey began early. I was 6 years old when I decided to memorize the Quran in Masjid. That early experience made me want to always try to be a true observant – as much as I can – of God’s orders. From then on, supported by God’s mercy and strength, I strived to always be an ambassador of being a successful Muslim, an Arab woman and a human being focused on personal, academic and career goals.
As part of that path, I facilitated and negotiated a sponsorship between The Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Heya Masr Initiative, a program that benefits marginalized girls ages 8-12 to help them lead a balanced life. The program focuses on character building, anti-sexual harassment training, self-defense and healthy nutrition. It is a great success and is making a big change in the lives of many children in orphanages in Egypt.
Empowering refugees was another stage in my journey. While studying for a certificate of business management as a Fulbright Scholar, I was an intern for a project that included individuals and organizations from 23 countries – helping to empower women refugees in Houston, Texas and Pakistan through honeybee farming projects. I went to rallies and was in the news for defending refugees’ resettlements rights. I served in a resettlement agency to assist in cultivating a change in the lives of my refugee friends.
Believing that a true Muslim – man or a woman – should be enlightened with knowledge and education, I completed my master’s degree in business administration with a specialty of public policy and administration, which was sponsored by a government scholarship.
Being a Muslim woman did not prevent me from serving constituents in government offices. As a legislative assistant intern to a democrat senator, I tried my best to portray how dedicated a person can be in serving others. I was interviewed by Voice of America as a representative of a young woman trying to cultivate a positive change domestically, regionally and internationally.
Life is a challenging journey that can only lead to a meaningful destination if you can say, “I tried my best to be a good human being to myself, family, and everyone else.” Hard work is always hard if we visualize it as so, but I perceive hard work as a constructive process to reach the best version of myself as a human being and a Muslim leader.
I write articles about Human Rights, Foreign Policies, Women’s Rights and Sufism. As for my personal aspirations, I am praying to establish a true Muslim family and to teach my children how to hold their faith for a better life. Professionally, I aspire to hold on my career path in human rights and philanthropy where I can dwell for humanity to illuminate and cultivate hope in others’ lives.