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.