South Asian Women Experience

Dr. Sharmeen Ahmed

  • Associate Dean of Students, Hofstra University
  • Founder, “Your Story Matters”, an online community for women who identify as South Asian Americans living in the diaspora
  • An educator with 16 years of experience
  • Graduate of Northeastern University with a Doctorate in Education and Columbia University with a Masters of Science

Focus and Reality

  • Bridging the gap on the South Asian American women experience
  • South Asian American women, generally from Bangladesh and Pakistan, are linked together with the larger South Asian population resulting in gaps of nuanced support and guidance

Why She Cares

As an immigrant from Bangladesh, Dr. Ahmed struggled with navigating college as she had limited guidance regarding the expectations of American schools and colleges. The schools she attended did a poor job in reaching out to her immigrant parents and cultural community in explaining these expectations thus forming gaps of knowledge and experiences.

Her struggles persisted until she met the Director of her undergraduate program, a Sri Lankan woman, who guided and supported her throughout her college career (and beyond), and even reached out to her mother to explain the benefits of participating in out-of-the-classroom activities. Dr. Ahmed’s life trajectory changed after this intervention as she was exposed to people, cultures and experiences that she had not had awareness or access to prior to making this connection.

As an educator in her 16th year of practice, Dr. Ahmed heard similar struggles from South Asian American women students at various universities. Thus, her personal experiences informed her research topic which focused on leveraging technology, presenting a career-oriented speaker series and journaling to overcome barriers of awareness and access to out-of-the classroom experiences for Bangladeshi and Pakistani female immigrant and first-generation college student participants. Participants’ preconceived thoughts were also challenged in the process, informing and then ultimately influencing action.

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