Fatema Osman: Applying My Diverse Background To Help Others

Fatema Osman is 4th grade teacher at Razi School in New York City. She graduated from Brooklyn College in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and Psychology. She is pursuing a career in occupational therapy and hopes to, one day, make a positive political impact on society. Her interests include helping others, playing sports, philosophical debates, and traveling. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to an Egyptian father and a Polish-American mother.

This story is part of “American Muslims”, a photo series created by Carlos Khalil Guzman, a photographer and activist based in NYC. The project is dedicated to capturing the diversity of the Muslim community in the United States. We will not only be sharing the images from the project, but each image will be accompanied by a personal and unique story to show our shared humanity.

What has the journey being like as someone with such a rich mixed background both culturally and religiously?
Well, let me just say, I am grateful to have grown up in a place as diverse as New York City because I believe this has helped me dismantle some of the negative connotations of being from a mixed background. In fact, my unique background has served to spark some interesting conversations and has helped me connect with other people and empathize with their struggles. I think it has challenged me to think deeply on so many issues, to constantly compare and contrast the different views I’ve been exposed to, and to learn a little something from each one of them.

How do you plan to help people with the career path you have chosen?
I have always wanted a career in the health industry for as long as I can remember. Occupational Therapy is a form of treatment for those recovering from physical or mental illnesses. This field particularly interested me because I want to help better the quality of life for people with disabilities. I’d like to help promote social justice, health reforms, and the benefits of a pluralistic society.

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to know my purpose in life. This way, I can make my decisions deliberately rather than randomly, and thus live life more effectively. Philosophy has taught me to look for any object or being’s purpose by looking into their unique characteristics. Islam teaches us that the purpose of human beings is to worship and please God. That purpose is in keeping with the theme mentioned above since worship of God is not for His benefit, but for ours. That’s pretty cool.

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