BY: ALYSSA MAHADEO
The next generation of students is a motivated one, dedicating much of their extracurricular time and efforts investing in the humanitarian experience. Ladan Mowlid a student in her final year at Memorial University of Newfoundland has discovered her voice through personal experience; persevering and overcoming obstacles in hopes of using her activism to build a brighter student community.
Born in Toronto, Ladan was raised through Muslim faith. Growing up her parents taught her the value of honesty, integrity and justice, always reminding her that ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Ladan has kept that message close to her heart applying it to everything that she does as a reminder of her purpose in life.
Always a motivated and outspoken young woman, Ladan was still very hesitant when it came to saying what was on her mind. Toronto is a big city, and it is very easy for your voice to get lost amongst all the others. At twenty-two years old she has overcome many difficult and challenging times dealing with both racial and physical obstacles managing to stay optimistic and resilient through it all.
In High School Ladan was exposed to two different experiences attending both public as well as private institutions. In Public School, she found it difficult to succeed in the sense that she felt as though she was being swallowed by the system. However, after attending Private Islamic School she found that religion overshadowed everything that she wanted to do, and although they studied the sciences, they didn’t focus on those that she was most interested in. Ladan ended up going back to Public School because the curriculum she studied there was more accommodating to the Humanities and Social Sciences that she was interested in pursuing further. In addition, the public school allowed her the option of co-op, which she used as an opportunity to explore her options and inevitably decide what she would study in University.
For a while, Ladan’s long term goal had been to attend Med School. She wanted to be able to give back to the underserved community and felt the best way to achieve this would be through advances in medicine. However, as hard as she applied herself in the Sciences, she never did as well as she did in the Social Sciences. After speaking to an Academic Advisor, and receiving some insightful advice from a friend they explained that ‘Sometimes there might be something that you love, but you might not be good at it, and you might be better off applying your knowledge elsewhere.’ Ladan took a step back and re-evaluated her options realizing where her strengths and values lie. She was big on advocacy and human rights and was better off heading in a new direction where she could still fulfil her desire to be of service to the community.
After High School Ladan became ill, suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis a type of arthritis in which there is long term inflammation of the joints of the spine. It affected her to the point where she was in so much pain that she spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital and restricted to a wheelchair or having to use the aid of a cane or a walker to move around. It was a difficult time for her to deal with, especially heading into University, and many were unsure of how things would progress especially with the risk of it becoming worse. Ladan stayed optimistic. Through everything, she continued to preserve, to expand her knowledge, and to maintain a positive attitude in order to get through it. Through positive affirmation her condition improved; she wasn’t cured, but soon she was able to move around without the help of a wheelchair, and that was all she needed to keep on moving forward.
Upon Graduation from High School, Ladan went on to enroll at McMaster University in General Humanities. Still struggling to find her voice she made the decision to leave the big city and attend Memorial University in Newfoundland. “I was to find myself and discover my own path,” she explained. “I thrive in smaller communities and it has given me the ability raise my voice and say what I want to say.” Currently Ladan is in her final year finishing a Double Major in Communications and Sociology and also completing a diploma program in Communications and Media. She is an Executive Member of the Muslim Student Association, as well as the President and Co-founder of the Black Student Association addressing issues of racism and other concerns pertaining to diversity and unity of the Black Community at the University.
“Without the community, I wouldn’t be the person I am today; when I was sick people were always there standing behind me, and supporting me and in return, I must support them,” Ladan explains. She spends time attending protests and standing up for any injustice that she sees, “If one person is hurting then I’m hurting, and so I will do whatever I can to help.” In September Ladan will be pursuing her Masters, and after that she is headed to Law School to continue her community advocacy.
“I want others to know that they should never give up, stay optimistic, and focus on the now, not things that they cannot control because I’ve learned how things will always get better.”