Nighet’s International Involvement:
Today, the United States stands at a threshold of being a diverse and pluralistic society with people from multiple cultures, speaking multiple languages. Similarly, Auburn University has seen an exponential growth in the enrollment of its international student body, with approximately 1,000 international students representing over 100 countries. It has been an enriching experience for me to have a cohort of such diverse fellow students and the honor to serve as their representative on Auburn University’s International Student Committee.
As a Boren Fellowship recipient, I spent a year in Morocco, where in addition to learning the Arabic language I conducted my doctoral research titled, “Muslim Women of Influence: A Cross-Cultural Study of Aspirations of Muslim Women in Morocco and the United States”.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, I invited a group of women to an Eid/Christmas/Hanukah party that resulted in a local organization, the International Women for Peace and Understanding. Our goal is to bring people of all faiths and cultures together to work to promote understanding, trust, and peace in our community. I have served two, two-year terms as president of the group, initiating and overseeing several community building and educational projects including international dinners and the community fairs.
Where are you from and what brought you to Auburn University?
I am originally from Pakistan and came with my husband who joined Auburn University as a faculty in Aerospace Engineering.
What are the challenges for women in your field and what have you done to overcome those challenges?
Being a life-long learner myself, I am passionate about women’s education. I firmly believe that women’s education is the cornerstone of a progressive society and fundamental to global peace. As a psychologist, ESL teacher, and adult educator my two main goals are to (a) educate and engage immigrant communities, and to promote civic engagement and (b) to empower women through education.
It is with these goals in mind that I co-founded two women’s group the International Women for Peace and Understanding and the Auburn-Opelika Muslim Women Association. Working with immigrant women and in order to help them better integrate I obtained Teaching English as a Second Language, Graduate Certification from Auburn University.
Who (or what) are your role models and influences?
My first and foremost role model is my mother; she was an embodiment of compassion and empathy who worked tirelessly to uplift the less fortunate in her community. There are several other women who have inspired and motivated me in my life’s journey. However, I greatly admire a 9th century Muslim woman Fatima Fihriya, who founded University of Al-Qarawiyyin, the oldest continuously operating, degree-granting university and library in the world.
Fill yourselves with compassion and follow your dreams.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day, especially with this year’s campaign theme #BeBoldForChange, resonates with me. It is a time for anyone who is desirous of a better world to become a change agent by standing up against inequality and violence towards women, and by championing women’s education and empowerment.
#BeBoldForChange | www.internationalwomensday.com