Student Feature: Amena Fahim—A Story of Hope, Resilience, and Triumph
Born amidst her homeland's upheaval and sculpted by a tumultuous upbringing, Amena Fahim, a vibrant Clifton High School (CHS) junior, epitomizes hope, resilience, and the transformative power of education. Hailing from Egypt, Amena's childhood bore the scars of violence and unrest. Yet, undeterred by adversity, she soared above her circumstances, fueled by an insatiable passion for learning, educating, and making a difference in the world around her.
Amena recounts her early years in Egypt, vividly depicting a world where fear and uncertainty lurked as constant companions. "I grew up in a time when protests were constantly happening in Egypt. I remember sitting on my dad's shoulders, shouting for the end of government oppression, and then rushing to safety after the army fought back with tear gas, tanks, and guns. "Only when her family sought refuge in the United States did Amena uncover the treasure of safety and the gift of education, opportunities she holds dearly.
Now, Amena shines as a beacon of hope and inspiration, wholeheartedly embracing her newfound opportunities. She is an active member of various school clubs and organizations, including Madcaps, Clifton High's acapella choir, and a student tutor at the CHSsTeen Center. "I'm grateful to have the skill of teaching others," she explains. "I decided to academically help other students in school so that they have the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of what they are being taught." Moreover, as a current general member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Amena has enjoyed her time in the MSA to such an extent that she aspires to run for an executive board position, aiming to foster unity and inclusivity within her school's Islamic community.
Amena's journey exemplifies the power of hope and the unconquerable human spirit. Despite her tribulations, she remains optimistic about the future, determined to harness her education to make a difference. "I'm grateful every single day that I have the luxury of education and the opportunity to be something bigger than myself [...] I will keep learning and educating myself because, as a woman, that could be my only power, and maybe one day help my country to become safe once again."
Amena's narrative extends beyond the school day. Her life outside CHS is replete with hobbies and interests, ranging from drawing, cooking, and building miniature architectural designs, which she thinks provides her with the creative mind needed as an aspiring interior designer. When she’s not building, Amena loves singing and songwriting, saying, "Songs have always been an interest of mine. Learning new instruments and hearing new combinations of notes makes me the happiest." Her passion for creativity is evident, as she eagerly anticipates performing her original song at the CHS talent show.
Reflecting upon the mentors and significant influences in her life, Amena fondly remembers Mrs. Katz, her fifth-grade teacher who guided her through the challenges of adapting to a new country and mastering a new language. Amena reminisces how Mrs. Katz "never left [her] side until [she] understood the lesson or subject and always made class something [Amena] would look forward to, causing [her] to miss school during weekends and breaks." This unwavering support and encouragement were instrumental in Amena's growth and success, instilling in her the confidence and determination to surmount life's obstacles.
Though Mrs. Katz helped shape Amena's resilience and worldview, Amena faced an unimaginable trial during the Covid-19 pandemic—losing her cherished grandfather to the illness. She poignantly delineates the emotional burden it bore on her and her family, confessing, "It was tough for me to keep up with school and grieve the loss of someone that I loved and really missed […] As I tried to find something normal to distract me from grieving, I always found a way to see my grandfather in everything I did, which made me miss him more." Through the pain, Amena unearthed the significance of treasuring loved ones and the moments shared with them, realizing "you never know when the last time you see them will be."
Throughout her high school journey, Amena has also learned the value of investing her all in everything she undertakes. This life lesson has imparted the essence of feeling accomplished and successful, irrespective of the outcome. As she encounters new challenges and opportunities, Amena will persist in cultivating compassion, determination, and a deep-rooted sense of justice within herself and those around her.
Amena's altruistic spirit manifests in her aspirations for the future. She envisions dedicating more time to volunteering during high school and eventually journeying to countries in need, particularly Palestine and Egypt, to provide civic and communal support to alleviate the suffering endured by the inhabitants. Amena believes that traversing these regions and witnessing the situations firsthand is crucial for comprehending the truth and effecting long-lasting, meaningful improvements.
As Amena continues her journey, fortified with the priceless wisdom she has gleaned and the unwavering resolve that has guided her through the murkiest of times, we eagerly anticipate the triumphs that lie in store for her. With the fire of her spirit burning bright, there is no doubt that Amena will continue to forge her path and help brighten the world.