Professional of the Month-October 2020: Mona Abdulla
Mona Abdulla is a single mother of two teenage boys and the daughter of Yemeni-American immigrant parents. She was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, and currently works as the Manager of Community Engagement at NYIC. Previously she spent many years working as a Career Counselor. Mona received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her master’s degree in College Student Affairs from Buffalo State. Mona also serves as a Board Trustee for Lackawanna City Schools and loves working for the public. Some of her accomplishments include: being one of the first Yemeni females in the WNY area to attend college and the first Arab-American Muslim female in the WNY area to hold public office. Also, while in school, she received the Hurculine Guthrie Commitment to Diversity Award. Later Mona received an Appreciation Award from the Yemeni American Merchants Association in NYC.
When Mona was a child, she remembers how fun it was to grow up with two cultures. Because of this, she feels she can easily connect with people from various backgrounds. Being able to view the world from different perspectives has given her the passion to be the voice for Muslim Americans, women, and other minority groups. Mona hopes to use this insight to speak out against injustices and to demand change. She would also like to empower other women through her work.
In her own words:
“Originally I wanted to be a psychologist. While in college, I realized I liked working as a college tutor. After that, I considered working in a field where I would assist college students.
One of the challenges I faced at the beginning of my college career was the way the community reacted to me going to college. We were part of a new generation of females that started attending college. About half of my friends got married early. Many people were proud and happy to see me go to college, but for many, it was a strange thing. My dad always encouraged all of us to go to school and do well, however, I think it was hard to even for my parents to understand some things. For example, I had to study in the library until 10 pm. They were afraid for me to be out somewhere at night. Nevertheless, they were extremely proud when I finished. I hope my experience can empower other Yemeni and non-Yemeni females.
The advice I would give to others is to remain focused! This can be difficult at times. Especially because we all have different responsibilities outside of school. Some have work, family, etc. Do not ever take your eye off the prize. Once you get your degree, no one can ever take it away from you! When you are 75 years old, guess what? You still have that degree!”