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National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM): Student Stories

April was National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM), which focuses on the diverse culture, history and contributions of the 3.7 million Arab Americans in the United States. In celebration, we wanted to share some thoughts from Hana Alsoudi (Class of 2025) about her experiences growing up in America and how her unique perspective contributed to her path into Optometry. Read her experience below.

Hana Alsoudi, Class of 2025

I was born in a small city in middle America in 1993, a first-generation American and second daughter of Syrian immigrants. Pioneers in their own right, my parents left behind everything they knew and traveled to the US in the early 80s with a vision – to stage their future children for the American dream. There wasn’t a lot of diversity where I grew up and being Arab or Muslim wasn’t popular, so I watched my parents work hard to overcome the unique challenges of assimilating to their new home. To navigate the foreign landscape, language, and culture, they leveraged strength, resilience, and the fundamental importance of education.

My experience as an Arab American has shaped my education and career path in optometry by instilling me with adaptive thinking and a vision for long-term growth. The guidance of education as the foundation to success led me into the sciences – studying Biomedical Engineering where I was exposed to imaging and vision systems from a technical application. This informed a personal and professional interest in photography, the style of which was influenced in part by my cultural heritage. My experiences as an Arab-American woman, my profession, and my educational background inspired a more focused interest in one of the most fundamental aspects of the human experience – vision.