Student Reflection: Batool Ibrahim
Senior Batool Ibrahim (global studies, political science) shares her experience at the college's Celebration of Excellence.
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- [00:00:03.269]Hello, everyone.
- [00:00:04.904]My name is Batool Ibrahim.
- [00:00:06.806]It's really nice to be here.
- [00:00:08.541]Literally a week away from graduation.
- [00:00:11.478]So I came to you and in the fall of 2018
and made a very big mistake
- [00:00:16.649]of being starting off
as a college of business student.
- [00:00:21.621]I'm just kidding.
- [00:00:23.390]But as I began to reflect on my time here
at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
- [00:00:28.561]and most importantly,
as a College of Arts and Sciences student,
- [00:00:31.765]I realized my story starts way
before I came to UNL.
- [00:00:35.735]You see, I grew up in predominantly low
income neighborhoods in Lincoln, Nebraska,
- [00:00:41.007]and I also attended
the underfunded and overcrowded
- [00:00:44.511]public schools in these neighborhoods
my entire adolescence.
- [00:00:49.082]Every aspect of my personhood
was shaped by the schools I was raised in.
- [00:00:53.553]When I was in sixth grade,
I spent more time reading and translating
- [00:00:57.223]government documents
- [00:00:58.625]for my immigrant parents than reading
the books assigned to my class. I learned
- [00:01:03.096]really quickly what the qualifications
were for SNAP and Medicaid.
- [00:01:09.102]But was told that I was not
- [00:01:10.370]smart enough to take an exam
that would qualify me for dif classes.
- [00:01:14.707]I spent years in rooms where lessons about
slavery would result in my
- [00:01:18.645]whole class turning and looking at me
and the other black students.
- [00:01:22.882]As my teacher told them, my skin color
would qualify me to be a house slave.
- [00:01:28.121]Of course, none of these incidences
would be challenged because as soon as
- [00:01:31.691]I did challenge them, I was sent
out of the classroom for disruption.
- [00:01:36.129]This is what my education looked like.
- [00:01:39.165]I was not believed in
- [00:01:41.501]and everything and everyone told me
that I did not belong in the classroom.
- [00:01:45.972]I saw more of my friends
drop out, find themselves behind bars,
- [00:01:50.276]or even murdered
before they dreamed of attending UNL.
- [00:01:54.414]But that is a privilege that I got.
- [00:01:58.651]This all changed when I had the honor
of attending the University
- [00:02:01.988]of Nebraska-Lincoln and becoming a student
in the College of Arts and Sciences.
- [00:02:06.926]It was the people of this university
who uplifted me here and challenged me
- [00:02:12.465]that my experiences
that I asked myself a persistent
- [00:02:15.602]and urgent question, How can I fix this?
- [00:02:18.972]What is my duty to my community
and how can I bring about this change?
- [00:02:24.577]I have found the answers
to these questions during my time
- [00:02:27.547]here as a student for the College of Arts
and Sciences with Dr.
- [00:02:31.851]Dreher, my first black educator
who introduced me to the writings of Audre
- [00:02:36.022]Lorde and Alice Walker ,
and literally transformed
- [00:02:39.559]the way I thought
about the use of words in English.
- [00:02:42.929]It was in her classroom that I began
to understand that I am intelligent.
- [00:02:48.334]Dr. Jeanette Jones,
who continues to teach me
- [00:02:51.437]how to take up space
and to do so unapologetically.
- [00:02:55.475]Dr. Emira Ibrahimpasic,
- [00:02:58.011]whose inclusive learning style,
allowed me to finally see myself
- [00:03:02.448]and the struggles of my communities
in the classroom and in the curriculum.
- [00:03:07.120]Dr. Gwendolyn Combs and Dr.
- [00:03:08.955]Michael Combs, whose legacy will forever
change the way I think of myself,
- [00:03:14.160]that I am a scholar, that belongs
in the seats of this university.
- [00:03:18.498]Dr. Julia Riley, who's just a frickin
awesome instructor who makes her students
- [00:03:24.170]feel excited about learning
and the curriculum.
- [00:03:28.908]Dr. Alice Kang who taught me that
there's always a way
- [00:03:31.878]to change a system. Always.
- [00:03:35.081]The village of teachers
who have supported, uplifted,
- [00:03:38.685]cared and love for loved me here at UNL,
- [00:03:42.288]who taught me the most important things
that I am smart, that I belong,
- [00:03:48.261]that I will do great things,
that I am capable, that I am excellent.
- [00:03:54.701]It is because of them
that every position I have held will hold,
- [00:03:59.939]will only increase my capacity
to serve my communities
- [00:04:03.776]and to give others
what they have given me.
- [00:04:06.846]The work I have done at the University
- [00:04:09.749]was because of the home I found
at the College of Arts and Sciences,
- [00:04:14.120]a place where my intelligence
was not questioned
- [00:04:17.023]or diminished but challenged and expanded.
- [00:04:20.526]This all resulted in me
challenging systems here at UNL,
- [00:04:24.897]creating a community initiative
that single handedly fed and clothed
- [00:04:28.868]and aided 400 families in the Lincoln
and Omaha communities.
- [00:04:33.273]Changing and creating more equitable
educational policy changes.
- [00:04:37.343]Becoming the first black student body
president and student regent
- [00:04:40.813]in the history of our university,
and serving as an advisor
- [00:04:44.450]to our Chancellor so that we could
all make this place a safer home
- [00:04:48.321]for black, brown and Indigenous students.
- [00:04:51.257]So while UNL has not always felt like
home, I know that I will leave it better.
- [00:04:57.463]And as I am mere days away from graduation
- [00:05:00.233]and being the first in my family
to graduate from college.
- [00:05:03.636]I'm cognizant of those from my childhood
who have not made it this far,
- [00:05:08.107]and I'm reminded of my duty to them
and how institutions neglected them.
- [00:05:12.979]In adolescence, we never had dreams
beyond the four block radius
- [00:05:16.449]that was our ghetto from the windows of
our underfunded and overcrowded schools.
- [00:05:21.754]We saw our future on the street corners
where our would be role models stood.
- [00:05:26.726]No one told us that we could be more.
- [00:05:29.362]But the family I found
here told me I could.
- [00:05:32.832]Positive role models
who saw innate value in me
- [00:05:36.536]might have resulted in some of my friends
realizing their own potential.
- [00:05:42.375]So being believed
in is opportunity itself.
- [00:05:46.813]I will continue to serve them
- [00:05:49.882]and as I've been accepted
into top law programs across the country,
- [00:05:54.220]I know that as an aspiring lawyer,
every client I will have
- [00:05:58.958]will have the College of Arts
and Sciences, the teachers, the educators,
- [00:06:03.529]and the home I found here
to thank for the justice
- [00:06:07.033]that I will achieve for them.
- [00:06:10.036]And like always go big red.
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