The word “diaspora” is defined by Merriam- Webster Dictionary as “the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland”. In the world of literature, diaspora often explains a nostalgia for the past and a longing for what once was. To be removed from what is familiar and transplanted into a new life can be terrifying, especially when the only friend you have is fear of the uncertain life ahead. It takes bravery and confidence to confront your individual diaspora, and Sana Syed’s story of leaving behind what is familiar to venture into a foreign life produces pure inspiration. Sana experienced what she calls a “unique life.” With immigrant parents from Pakistan, Sana often felt a tug between her parents’ heritage and the culture of the United States. Her extended family also frequently experienced these dilemmas because Sana’s father encouraged his family to move to the United States, support their financial burdens until accustomed to their new lives, and anchor their family to the American Dream. Unfortunately, Sana entered the cycle domestic violence at a young age that was later repeated in her adult life. The story of Sana’s journey through domestic violence is not meant as a plea for sympathy, but as a comfort to others: the diaspora that Sana has endured is the motivation for her work to prevent and end domestic violence.
Jennifer Gates, Dallas City Councilwoman and Registered Nurse, grew up in a family focused on civic engagement and participation. Growing up, Gates witnesses the participation in service and politics. Both her mother and father focused on giving back to the community through civic engagement and philanthropic opportunities. Gates worked as a pediatric nurse before she saw an opportunity and seized it to take a more active role in her community.
It was a long night in November watching the defeat of her candidate in a U.S. congressional election, where suddenly Terri Broussard Williams was out of a job. As the spokesperson for this senatorial candidate, as soon as the night ended Williams was out of work with no direction of what she would be doing the following days and weeks. That’s when a mentor said she should be a lobbyist. Her background in journalism and tv equipped her with the communication skills of a qualified lobbyist - Terri should give it a try. A born and bred Louisiana girl was thrown into the world of legislation, navigating the ecosystem of a capitol building with no prior experience in her pocket. Through the encouragement of others, and by the legacy and teachings of her parents and grandparents, Terri’s fundamental perseverance to start fires in communities, legislative floors, and college campuses continues to challenge the mediocrity that lives there.
Kathie Tovo, current Mayor Pro Tem representing City Council District 9 in Austin, Texas, did not grow up envisioning herself working in politics. Kathie did not have politically involved parents, so it wasn’t until attending college that she began to figure out her political views. Those views turned out to be different than her family’s. Nevertheless, she felt free to engage in political activities on campus, such as rallies. After college, she guided her career toward teaching writing and interdisciplinary studies at the college level and working at Humanities Texas. In her spare time, she began getting involved in neighborhood affairs and became vice president and president of different neighborhood associations. Her passion for the issues she was dealing with began to grow, and even though Kathie had not explicitly decided to begin a career in politics, she decided to let her new-found passion guide her towards a path that would enable her to keep working on them. This is what led her to run for City Council member and thus begin her career in politics.
Dr. Jennifer Cantu, a Laredo, Texas native, is a democrat challenging incumbent Phil Stephenson for Texas House of Representatives District 85,  encompassing the more rural areas of Wharton, Jackson, and Fort Bend counties. Currently, Cantu works as an early-childhood intervention therapist and service coordinator for a Texas nonprofit and is a co-founder of Fort Bend For All, another nonprofit dedicated to serving the needs of indigent and minority members of the Fort Bend county community. Cantu is a dedicated mother of twin girls and her husband, Fernando, lives in Mexico.
In 2012, the city of Tyler began an initiative of creating a more beautiful place by planting trees throughout the area. Introduced by the mayor, this Tyler Trees proposal wanted to plant 5,000 trees over the following 5 years, an effort that received the collaboration of the entire community. Tree events were held, a tree planting day was created, students at the local schools donated their lunch money to plant more trees, and together, Tyler planted 5,000 trees 2 years before the planned goal. Such a successful plan to enhance and extend the natural beauty of Tyler can be attributed to the woman who organized the initiative: former mayor Barbara Bass.
Born and raised in Boston Massachusetts, Alexsandra Annello grew up in an outspoken Italian household with her single mother. Her mother worked hard to support her family and at a young age, Annello was exposed to many social issues her family and community faced. Growing up in public housing, her mother was heavily concerned and aware of the issues and what policies the government were planning on creating. Being very outspoken and politically orentiated, Annello’s mother was a huge influence to Annello and made her realize her voice did matter. Now with the political and social flame burning inside a young Annello, she decided it was time to get involved. Excited and ready to conquer the world, Annello organized a mock election for her second grade class to participate in. This was during the first time Clinton was elected as president and Annello was already getting her hands dirty with organizing.
Somewhere on the campaign trail in the 25th congressional district of Texas you’ll find Julie Oliver, the democratic nominee taking on incumbent Roger Williams. A year ago in July of 2017, Oliver watched congress attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no plan of replacing it; as a woman who has worked in healthcare and taxation for over 20 years, Julie knew it was time for a change. Oddly enough, she first she asked her husband, Matt, to run...but after enough “No’s,” she knew it was up to her.
Aylin Segura, an entering freshman at Mountain View College and aspiring dentist, gained her first insight into politics during her freshman year at Skyline High School after campaigning for Wendy Davis in the 2014 Texas Gubernatorial Race. From there, she has testified on legislation affecting sex education in schools, received statewide news media attention for her work with gun violence prevention on campuses, and, now, chartered the first ever menstrual equity initiative in Texas. She is passionate vessel for student welfare and can’t be stopped. This is (HER)story.
Honorable Lana Myers currently serves in Place 4 as a Justice for the 5th District Court of Appeals, covering a large portion of North Texas. Her journey as a conservative elected official has spanned for more than two decades, including terms on the 5th District Court of Appeals and the 203rd Judicial District Court, a criminal district court in Dallas County. Her passion for politics spurred in her childhood but did not avail to fruition until she began working for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor. As a candidate who has faced both an appointment and an election process, she recognizes the partisan and politically-charged challenges of becoming an elected official. Lana advises young women interested in pursuing office to “exude your own credibility.”