Leadership Fellow Reflections: Mikel Aki'lah from Brooklyn, NY

While living in this city, in which its easy to feel very unsupported and overwhelmed, you become extremely thankful for the things that make you feel more connected to your community. Being a Muslim Female in New York is weird, there's this constant clash of your identities and sometimes you feel really lost.

A year ago a friend of mine messaged me telling me to sign up for a program she would be facilitating over them summer called Mentee Muslimah. I signed up because at that stage in my life I felt really distant from the Muslim community and wanted to rekindle that relationship while also doing something fun. My time participating in this program was amazing and gave me the sense of community and empowerment I was looking for. I was around a lot of my friends, we were talking about things that were important.

When the program ended I knew my relationship with WISE couldn’t end there. As soon as the application came out, I signed up to be a Fellow. My experience so far as a facilitator has been interesting, I really enjoy hearing the girls opinions about current events and I love seeing them interact and create new friendships. The girls in my group are really caring and supportive of their fellow participants. Its also weird sometimes because some of them are my age or older and I’m put in a leadership position. Each week we engaged in amazing discussions about our place in the world as Muslim women and how certain things placed against us either adds to our strength or, unfortunately, our anxiety. I hope that I can support their growth so that they can have the same experience I did with Mentee Muslimah.