By FATIMA FAKHREDDINE, Staff Writer
On Friday, The Arab Student Union (ASU) of the University of Michigan- Dearborn held their Ninth Annual Empowering the Youth Banquet at Bint Jebail Cultural Center.
“I am incredibly proud of the Arab Student Union from all three chapters: University of Michigan-Dearborn, Fordson High School, and Wayne State University,” continued ASU President, Fareed Shalhout, “It was amazing to see 700 community members come together on a Friday night to acknowledge women leaders in our community who inspire the youth.”
The event was surrounded around three female keynote speakers, Judge Charlene Elder, State Representative Rashida Tlaib, and Dearborn City Council President Susan Dabaja. Each discussing their experiences as mothers, women, and leaders.
The first speaker was Judge Charlene Elder, who was appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2005 to serve as a judge for the Wayne County Third Circuit Court. Elder addressed the females in the crowd as she spoke about her achievement of becoming a judge all while she was a wife and mother. “It is not that are men are not talented, or that their not multitasking and doing all kinds of wonderful things but I do think our struggle is a little harder as women,” continues Elder,
“We are often conflicted between our families and our careers and the ability to give both of those things 100%. As women and especially as Arab women we are devoted daughters, wives, mothers, and sisters. We embrace those titles more than any other title in the world.”
State Rep. Rashida Tlaib was elected into the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008, making her the first female Muslim elected to the Michigan Legislature. She encouraged the audience to never take no for an answer and to be ambitious. “I’m asking all of you to not wait your turn and be courageous,” said Tlaib.
Dearborn City Council President Susan Dabaja entailed in her speech the importance of having a supportive family. She encouraged young females to pursue their endeavors in whatever they are passionate about. “What I want to tell our young females, if you are interested in pursuing a career or some sort of profession that you are very passionate about there is nothing that should stop you. Not marriage, not the thoughts of having a family, or having a young family, you can do both,” said Dabaja.
ASU honored all three women with “Women Empowerment” awards.
Myssa Saleh, an attendee and a senior at Wayne State University, said “The keynote speakers all embodied what women power is all about.”
Vice President of ASU Zeinab Bazzi was satisfied and proud with the outcome of the event.
“We wanted a theme that would empower the crowd, and with the lineup of speakers I think we did just that. We are always grateful for the continued support of our surrounding communities because year after year they show up in numbers and help us celebrate in showcasing the achievements,” continued Bazzi, “Everyone mark your calendars for March 20th, 2015 for our tenth annual milestone!”