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.
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.
Pamela Luther is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for Dallas County Court of Criminal Appeals #2. Though she hasn’t run for office before, she has led her way into a Primary runoff, making her one of the top two candidate picks for the Dallas County Democratic Party. Luther holds one of the most interesting and valuable experiences for her race: she has not only served as a Public Defender but also a Prosecutor for Dallas County – giving her insight on both sides of the courtroom. Now, Luther wants to use this incredible experience to serve her hometown county as a judge, where she will no longer persuade a decision but determine it.
Sasha Moreno is seeking the Democratic nomination for Dallas County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4-2. She is currently taking part in a Primary runoff election, that will finally come to a close on election day, May 22nd. Even in the face of an additional election cycle, Moreno feels victorious knowing she battled the odds to land a spot in the primary run off. Though she wasn’t pegged as the original candidate favored to win the race, Moreno has dedicatedly served countless hours on the block walking trail, vowing to serve the community who has believed in her thus far. Moreno is the hardworking, self-proclaimed “underdog”, destined for greatness.
Lesli Gray is currently running her first campaign for a seat on the city council in Addison, TX, a 4.3 square-mile suburb outside of Dallas. However, this isn’t her first run-in with the political arena.She began her career working in and around the Capitol, spending time on Capitol Hill, working for a House Committee, a federal agency and NGOs. To summarize her work experience: Gray has spent most of her life in public service. Now, she hopes to utilize her experience while serving the community she calls home.
Judge Tonya Parker presides over the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas County, where she determines the outcome of cases ranging from medical malpractice to employment discrimination. She serves litigants from all over the world, so long as their civil case touches Dallas County limits in some way. Her calm demeanor and intellectual remarks exemplify her ability to articulate in depth policy perspectives. She has been the recipient of tremendous honors, highlighting her dedication to the community she serves, including Dallas Women’s Foundation’s “Maura Leadership Award”, “Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service” from her alma mater SMU Dedman School of Law, and “Trial Judge of the Year” by the American Board of Trial Advocates – Dallas Chapter. But practicing law hadn’t always been Parker’s number one passion. If it weren’t for role models throughout her adolescence, she might’ve continued focusing on her blooming career as an athlete, never realizing her potential on the bench.
Emily Jackson created the “She’s Running Podcast”, an online talk show that interviews women who are running for office, after the 2016 Presidential Election. She felt that the newly elected presidential administration would perpetuate a cycle of limited representation in government, particularly for women. Early on, Jackson ruled out running for office herself after joining a political incubator; she identified as an introvert, making a life of knocking on doors and speaking to crowds, difficult. Instead, Jackson decided to garner her entrepreneurial skills by creating a podcast, and corresponding website, to share the stories of women who are running. Eventually, Jackson expanded her reach of influence even further by not only interviewing candidates, but also leaders from nonprofits dedicated to electing women like She Should Run and IGNITE National.
At eight years old, Amanda Ghagar knew she wanted to be a lawyer. When asked in elementary what she aspired to be when she grew up, Ghagar was told “oh honey, you have to go to school for that!”, assuming she wouldn't go to college, let alone law school. Now, as an established lawyer in the DFW area, Ghagar is running for judge of Dallas County’s 68th District Court. If elected, she would become the first Iranian-American to hold public office as a judge in Texas. Growing up in conservative Lampasas, Texas, she knew that she would face an uphill battle in gaining the trust of her community, not only as a woman and an Iranian-American but also as a Democrat. Ghagar now hopes to break the status quo set by society for herself, as a public official.