One of 360: Soumya B. ’23
Helping us close out 2022 is Soumya B. ’23, a Senior boarding student from Morocco and Massachusetts. Read on to learn more about Soumya’s dedication to education, interest in politics, and gratitude for family.
I grew up in Morocco's Atlas Mountains, in a little town of roughly 2,000 people, in a really tight-knit society where everyone knew everyone. I spent a lot of time outside as a kid, playing games and hanging out with my cousins. My brother Mohammed was born with a genetic foot condition that caused him to have difficulty walking, which was bad because we lived in the mountains, and I took care of him as his older sister. One day when I was five years old, and he was nearing four years, a woman hiking noticed me and my brother playing, and she observed his feet. As an orthopedic surgeon, his situation attracted her. The next day, she returned to the town and asked to meet with my parents, as well as whether she could take my brother to the United States to get his feet fixed. My parents consented, and six months later, my father and my brother were on an airplane to the U.S. My brother continued returning until his feet were healed, and he could walk without any problem. My parents contacted the woman who would become my adopted mother when I was twelve years old, informing her that they had begun looking for a husband for me. In my village girls cannot attend school after sixth grade since the nearest secondary school is miles away, and for cultural reasons, girls cannot live elsewhere without their families, so they just marry them at a very early age. When my soon-to-be adopted mother learned about this, she encouraged me to travel to the United States to finish my education. My parents and I agreed it was the best option for me because I like learning and wanted to further my education. Now I live in Massachusetts with my mother, two cats, and two siblings. I am very lucky to have two loving and supportive families.
I attended a public high school in Massachusetts for my first two years of high school. I had a nice support system there, however, I wanted to be more academically challenged, so I went to my mother informing her that I wanted to move schools. I didn't have a specific school in mind, but my mother spoke with a friend who had a daughter who graduated from Emma Willard, and she assured my mother that I would do well there. So my mother and I conducted further research on the institution, went on a campus tour, and I fell in love with it. I was astounded by the student body and how eager everyone was to learn. I enjoyed all the courses given by the school, as well as the gorgeous campus. Following my visit, I decided to apply there, and the rest is history. As a senior at Emma, I am still astonished by how friendly and supportive the students are of one another. It's one of my favorite aspects of Emma.
On Politics, Governance, and Education Access…
I am really interested in politics and governance. I became interested in politics during the 2020 election, when I had a lot of free time to learn about the fundamentals of governance and politics, and I was amazed by how much there is to learn. I've always wanted to change as many people's lives as possible, and I've discovered that government and policymaking are the greatest ways for me to accomplish it. It will allow me to make an impact on a worldwide scale. Another reason I fell in love with this field is that it allows me to learn about many fields while also keeping me up to speed on what is going on around the world. As a result, I intend to major in political science in college. I'm excited to learn about the intricacies of global politics and how I may use that knowledge to make a worldwide change.
I am also very passionate about girls' education. Because of my gender, I was denied the opportunity to continue my education after sixth grade. After years of deliberation, I devised a strategy that would allow the girls in my town to complete high school while also eliminating child marriage. Soumya's Journey, a non-profit organization, was founded. I worked on acquiring the government paperwork throughout the summer of 2022, and by the end of August, I had acquired the tax exemption statute. I am now working with an incredible board of directors to develop a strategy that will allow us to make our mission a reality; to secure easy access to education for the girls of the Atlas Mountains and bring opportunities to develop their potential.
Go to soumyasjourney.org to learn more about Soumya’s Journey.
On New Adventures…
Tennis and horseback riding are two interests that I would want to pursue. They are both outdoor activities, and I am in desperate need of spending more time outdoors.
Emmaween is my favorite Emma tradition; I enjoy the enthusiasm that the school has at this time. The dressing up, haunted house, and custom competition are all great fun, but my favorite part of this tradition is the dining hall food. It's the one time of year when I can eat all of the fried chicken I want and still have space for dessert.
Thanks, Soumya, for sharing your passions and contributing to the Emma Willard School community in unique and significant ways. We look forward to seeing the impact you will have as you continue to serve and shape our world!