Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Annie Banks
With her prominent leadership, Alizah Qadri stands out as an advocate for preserving Muslim culture and informing others about the religion of Islam within her own community.
Qadri anticipates her position as the president of the Muslim Student Association- or the MSA, she calls it,- this upcoming school year at Plainfield Central High School. “We spread the meaning of Islam,” Qadri said, explaining the message that MSA delivers, “We show people what Islam is, and we give lectures [on it.]” She then goes to add that “Islam doesn’t make us different from you.”
Qadri’s friend, Jillian Dzieciol, said that “she is a great leader, and ready to go for anything. She’s really smart, and is becoming more and more positive.”
Her sister, Alena Qadri, only agrees. “I admire her dedication and her respect for anything she does,” Qadri said, “I’m really proud of her and her hard work.”
Qadri says that Islam is a beautiful, peaceful religion that truly bonds through diversity and says that she looks up to Gandhi because of his peacefulness. “He inspired me to be who I am, and I’m nice to everyone. I was taken advantage of, and I wasn’t taking charge,” she said. “I will not let anyone control me.”
During a bought of chronic, depression-like state Qadri had turned to Islam for relief. Besides the aid of her faith, Qadri had started to use makeup as a coping mechanism during the end of her freshman year. “My face is a canvas,” she said. “And makeup is an art.”
She also had taken an interest in fashion, in which she created a fashion blog on Instagram where she posts pictures of cultural clothing and where she finds each piece.
Qadri keeps deep ties to her Pakistani background, even though she has mixed it with American culture as well. “It’s tough. Though you’re in America, in Pakistan they expect you to be Pakistani.”
She says that she enjoys her intelligence, as well as her difference as an individual. “I want to show that females are more than to just be in the house, or cooking, or making babies,” Qadri said. She says that she lives with an Islamic point of view. “I have experienced backlash because of my personality. Most Pakistani girls are supposed to be shy. I’m not!”
Her school houses a Muslim Inter-Scholastic team that will have a few members competing in the national championship in Detroit, Michigan. Despite her absence from the event, Qadri still remains optimistic about the tournament and continues to be excited about the opportunity that was given to the competitors.