Activist & Educator
Shams Al-Badry found her passion for social activism and education equity during her time at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. After graduating from UNL in 2014, Shams joined Teach for America, spending two years teaching at a bilingual Early Childhood Education Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Through her time with Teach for America she became involved in community organizing and advocacy. Her current position as an Academic Advisor allows her to work with students one-on-one to ensure their success with their programs. She also serves as a Real Change Fellow with RESULTS and serves as an Alumni Advisor for Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc. She has lobbied on Capitol Hill on behalf of millions of Americans living in poverty asking members of congress to support a proposal that will lift families out of poverty. She continues to stay active in her hometown community and hopes to bridge the education gap between marginalized communities and the education system.
How does your identity translate through the way you dress?
My hijab has become a special part of my identity. Although, it is merely a piece of cloth-it serves a higher purpose. I have been asked several times whether I find it oppressive. Hijab is my choice and my choice alone. I find it liberating, non-conforming to our standard societal vision for beauty. It has empowered me to stand up for injustice in my community and communities of color. Hijab also serves as a point of education, many times peers feel comfortable asking questions and getting to know more about who I am as a person.
If there is one thing you could change about the world, what would it be and why?
Educational Equity for all children! Imagine what kind of world we would live in, if we gave each child the opportunity to seek higher education? We know that all children can learn, why not give them the proper resources and support to do that? I am passionate educational equity because I know that our students need more. As a former teacher, I will continue to push for resources and additional support for classrooms in my community. We need to ensure that each child is receiving an education that will better their future. It starts at the local level-- we need more early childhood education centers, we need more funding for our schools and adequate resources for teachers.
What is one thing you'd like to share about your culture?
Food! I love all foods but I'd have to say Iraqi food is my go to comfort food. Let's be real, all food is good food. Whenever I travel, the first thing I do is look up halal restaurants in the area on my Zabiha app. From there, the majority of my trip revolves around where I eat.