I was born in Algeria and immigrated to the United States with my family when I was three years old. My parents left their home country and family for a better opportunity and future for their children. My father was a truck driver and did his best to provide for a family of six while my mother was a stay at home mom, by choice.
My father believed it was his job to provide for his family and my mother believed it was her job to make sure we came home to home cooked meals and that our only focus was to do good in school. While I respected and valued these traditional customs, I knew that my parents made these sacrifices in order for me to succeed and pursue the opportunities this country has to offer. Growing up as a Muslim woman in America also added to the challenges and setbacks of also coming from a low income family. The media’s portrayal of Muslim women as oppressed or helpless played a role in certain aspects of my life.
I knew I had to do more than just make my parents proud but to help rewrite the narrative of a Muslim woman in this country. I began doing this by being the first person in my family to graduate from college. I am grateful for my parents instilling the value of education in me because that is what has created the foundation of my beliefs and success in life. I hope to instill my same values in my children.
As a mother, I have had to find the balance of finding myself through education and pursuing a career while not letting my job overshadow my journey of motherhood. Everything I do is for them and they motivate me to take a career path that creates a better world for them. I strive to be a solid role model for my kids through the work that I do. Being a woman in a misogynistic world that expects women to choose between their careers or being a mother, I am defying these sexist patterns of society by simultaneously succeeding at both. I have always had an interest in pursuing a career in the legal field. That interest has led me to working in different areas of law after graduating from college.
I currently work with a legal aid organization and this experience has exposed me to the practice of law from a humanitarian standpoint. Free legal aid is provided to ensure that opportunities for justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. My goal is to become an attorney with one of the legal aid organizations in the Bay Area and this opportunity with Esq. Apprentice will help me achieve that goal.
My current position as a paralegal with the Eviction Defense Collaborative has instilled a stronger desire in me to become an attorney. Working in a legal aid organization has fulfilled my passion and desire to help those coming from struggling socio-economic backgrounds. Our organization has taken center stage during the pre-existing housing crisis in San Francisco and the current pandemic. As humans we rely on our health and depend on the security and stability that come from having a place to call home.
Playing a role in the fight against housing injustice has been the most fulfilling part of my career. As a paralegal I have had the chance to meet amazing people who come from different backgrounds and life experiences. This work has allowed me to take part in the defense of human rights and the protection of ethnic minorities and the most vulnerable groups who otherwise would not have legal representation. When I achieve my goal of becoming a lawyer, I would like to continue my work with legal aid organizations and represent those who cannot afford legal representation.
This story has been edited and condensed for clarity.