It’s already hard to make it in life with all the obstacles and hardships paving the way to success, but these hardships become even more relevant when you happen to be a woman, Muslim, covered and living in the USA. It’s as if you hit the jackpot in the “How can my life get any harder” drama show! Well, meet the lucky winner: Noor Wazwaz
Want to spice up the story? Noor’s dream, and she’s well on her way to achieve it, is to become a news anchor in a US TV channel. FULLHOUSE!
Noor’s journey towards journalism started a while back, actually a long while back when she was still a kid staring at the Oprah Winfrey’s show, and smiling at the prospects that she could, and would, be the next big star of American TV.
Fast forward a few years and Noor graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in May 2013 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She was also a member of UIC’s Honors College. Noor had a hard time staying away from her passion, as going for journalism wasn’t making her family and relatives jump with enthusiasm. If you want to be a good daughter or son in an Arab context, go for engineering or medicine. Well Noor went for the latter, but things never felt right.
“I always had a passion for journalism since high school and even before that. I was a part of the newspaper club in high school. I was so excited and eager to start college that I graduated a year early in order to get to experience college life. Going into college, I knew I wanted to go into journalism but I was strongly discouraged because Muslims were not favored in Western Media. So I decided to pursue a career in the medical field since that was what my family and surrounding thought most appropriate for me.
I took all the chemistry, biology, psychology and science classes I could. I started doing my observation hours at clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. I even got an interview at one of the top Occupational therapy doctoral programs in the nation, but I declined because that was not where my heart was. I dreaded going to hospitals and it honestly really affected me because I was doing something I wasn’t passionate about. I simply was unhappy, so I decided to do something about it.
I ended up applying for an internship with one of the top radio stations here in Chicago- B96. I loved every second of it. I loved the fast paced environment, the media, and the chaos. I felt that this is where I belonged and from then on I decided I was going to pursue a career in journalism. It was too late for me to change my major because it was my last semester in college- so I decided I was going to do my Masters in Journalism.
I took a year off school for personal reasons and I am currently teaching first grade at an Islamic school. This however did not stop me from getting involved in journalism one way or another. I created and established a broadcasting club at the school I was teaching at. Many of the kids have parents that care mainly about the sciences and math, when really, reading, languages, arts and literature are also very important. I wanted the students to know that there are other career paths they can choose to follow rather than the pre-determined careers that are chosen for them by their parents. I also wanted the children to be educated not only by reading books but by exploring the world around them and to discover what is taking place in countries around the globe. It has been a great success so far.
I am also working on an independent documentary that highlights my journey into becoming a news anchor/ TV talk show host. I have had many great opportunities, including conducting interviews with Mohammad Assaf, Yahya Hawa, Dr. Tariq Ramadan and Maher Zain. I was even invited to interview Tyrese Gibson.”
For a covered Muslim Arab female living in the USA, making your way to the top is almost mission impossible, but with perseverance and persistence, anything is possible. The secret for Noor is to not focus on your disadvantages, don’t claim that you can’t make it because of this or that, instead hustle, work hard and improve along the way. Never put the focus on your gender or background, but on your talents and skills. These will always pay off at the end!
This philosophy and outlook on life is pushing many out there to start looking up to Noor, following on her path and facing life’s hurdles with temerity and strength.
“I have received tons of messages and emails from many people who look up to me and this truly is humbling. I am not perfect and I do not have all the answers. I, myself, am still learning and still have so much to learn. But it makes me incredibly happy that I am able to reach out and share my experiences with others. And I hope I am inspiring others to do what they love because a person doing something they don’t like is one too many.”
Noor Wazwaz understands that success cannot be accomplished without scars and pains. She also understands that trying to do everything on your own is simply not possible. There is no such thing in life as being captain America, you have to rely on others, ask for help and reach out to people around you. Here comes the power of networking!
“Without networking I would not have accomplished anything. Networking is what it’s all about! Take advantage of every single person you meet. For those that are still in college, your professors are the best people to build a relationship with and to keep in contact with. I was one of those students who would stay after class or visit professors during their office hours just to talk. It plays a huge role in the long run, and if not, you have nothing to lose!”
After hearing the story of Noor, we couldn’t help but ask her what advices would she give to females who want to be as successful, and here is the recipe that Noor prepared for us:
1. Set your goals and WORK towards them. Focus on your goals and don’t let any noise distract you.
2. People will hate whether you succeed or fail, so it is up to YOU and only YOU to decide whether or not you want to succeed.
3. Network, network, network!
4. Realize that there is always room to grow. You are always learning so be open-minded!
5. Be a well-rounded individual. Read and educate yourself.
If there is anything you should take from Noor Wazwaz’s path to success, it’s that our most valuable assets are our dreams, and if we don’t stick to them, if we don’t hold them tight and if we don’t achieve them or die trying, then we have nothing left to live for.
“Many people have discouraged me from pursuing my dream. Even the people closest to me thought I would not succeed in this career. Why? Because I am Muslim, and because I am an Arab. I will not allow myself to be silenced in fear of what people think of me, nor will I ever allow anyone to draw the line of what I can and cannot accomplish.
I will pursue my dreams with or without anyone’s acceptance, and I will be a news anchor on American television.”