Women Supporting Women: Giving Back and Women’s Empowerment After My Fulbright Program
In 2003, I attended the University of North Texas and studied for my MBA degree in Finance with the Fulbright Program. Fulbright offered me the opportunity to continue my graduate studies and help me get where I am in life and enhance my career. It also helped shape my personality, empower me to be a strong independent woman, and has inspired me to raise strong children and mentor youth to strive for their goals. During my Fulbright Program, I learned more about the importance of mentoring, which I wanted to bring back to Bahrain.
After returning to Bahrain, I worked in a bank in a managerial position. I started to mentor two younger female employees who went on to become a business owner and the head of a private banking department, respectively. We are good friends and still keep in touch and I am glad I was able to help them early on in their careers. I also started a business in 2007 that is still running. My first employee was a female, and she has continued the business with me to this day. Through these activities, I am devoted to women supporting women.
Then I found my life passion by accident! While working at the bank, I started teaching part-time at a university. I decided that spreading knowledge and seeing people grow is what life goals are all about and a career I wanted to pursue.
For the past ten years, I have been working as a lecturer. The majority of my students are females who have graduated and become leaders and entrepreneurs. I have supervised many of my students in competitions and have won first place. The latest was the CFA competition, Corporate Finance Woman of the Year by Ernst & Young, and the local Tradequest competition with Bahrain Bourse. The CFA competition provided my students and me with a trip to compete in Chicago, and this was an experience that made them grow.
I am so passionate about Fulbright that I always tell my students to apply. I have even mentored one who became a recipient of the Fulbright Program and is currently in the United States and will graduate this semester. Outside of the classroom, I stay in touch with my students and they keep me updated on their lives. Years ago, I decided to create a list that included all of my students, and then I send them any job offers that come my way to which many have found jobs and internships. I’ve created a network so that I can try and help them succeed after they leave my classroom.
Since I teach finance, I have also created a group of avid students and graduates that are into investments to share knowledge and motivation. I decided to share this knowledge with a wider audience. I created investment educational videos in Arabic on my Instagram account (@MsEmmasita) to answer questions related to finance and investments. I have found that many people lack personal finance issues of saving, budgeting, and investing, and women especially face gaps in financial literacy. When I look back at my personal essays I wrote to be accepted into the Fulbright, that was my mission: to come back and educate people in the basics of personal finance and financial freedom. It was a journey to finally reach that position, which seemed my goal from the start!
Besides my professional experiences, I also volunteer with the local Women Crisis Care International (WCCI), which offers safe space and community education programs for women who have experienced sexual or domestic abuse. Being with these women and them feeling they have a place to turn to is a humbling experience. I enjoyed volunteering during my Fulbright Program and this has been a way to continue helping others.
As if I didn’t have my plate full, I am also currently doing my doctoral studies with the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. If I hadn’t had the support of Fulbright Program to do my graduate studies, I would not be in a position to pursue a doctoral degree. Fulbright has opened so many doors and avenues for me that would not have been possible without it.
It shaped not only my knowledge, but my personality. I am so much stronger than I was before. There is nothing that equals the experience of living on your own that teaches you resilience and perseverance.
I am adamant that my children will go to college and have a similar experience. Who knows, perhaps one day they will even be Fulbrighters!
Emma is a Fulbright alumna from Bahrain. She studied finance at University of North Texas.
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