News Detail

One of 360: Ashfia A. '22

By Sandra Santana
This month, our One of 360 series continues with Ashfia A.’22! Read on to learn more about Ashfia’s journey to Mount Ida, her fight against illegal child marriage in Bangladesh, and a peek into her favorite Emma traditions. 

On Home…

I am from Yonkers, New York, and I have lived there all my life. Both of my parents are immigrants; my mother is from Guyana and my dad is from Bangladesh. I have an older brother that currently attends Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) as a senior, so we will graduate around the same time. My family is very hardworking, and the reason I got into Emma and have such drive and ambition is because of my parents. They showed me how to work hard and achieve goals and dreams through patience, power, and persistence. 

On Emma...

I learned about Emma through A Better Chance (ABC), which is a program that helps students across the country get accepted into private high schools in America. So, ABC held a member school fair in Manhattan, and I went to explore the many options that were in front of me. I wandered around the gigantic room crowded with scholars and aspiring thirteen-year-olds, and found an admissions representative standing by a table with a sign that said, “Ask me about chocolate!” Needless to say, I was very intrigued because I love chocolate. The admissions rep told me all about Emma and the Fair Trade program. One thing led to another, and I was enrolled at Emma a few months later! My time at Emma has been very memorable for me. The people, classes, and traditions will always stay alive in my memory. The adults here taught me that I shouldn’t give up on myself, even though academics and sports may feel like they are dragging me down. Instead, they taught me how to move forward and improve even more so I can be my best self. My first impression of Emma was that I thought I was going to Hogwarts. I am a big Harry Potter fan, so these gray walls made fourteen-year-old me very happy! 

On Advocacy...

I am very passionate about advocating for women’s empowerment in South Asia, specifically involving work and education for preventing illegal child marriage. I got interested in the particular subject of ending child marriage in my sophomore year when I was doing a research paper for my Contemporary World History class. When I learned of the horrors of child marriage, I noticed that a solution to it was providing education for young girls in impoverished villages, so that they can receive a high-paying job in the future. Therefore, families do not need to rely on marriage at an early age for economic stability. Bangladesh is one of the highest countries of child marriage in girls under the age of fifteen. My family has been running a free non-profit school for over a decade in the village of Jamalpur where my dad grew up. There, we provide schooling for the village children up to age thirteen, so they can reach higher levels of education after attending our school. We fund the school through donations from other family members, but I am taking it a step further. Since my junior year, I have been working on a Signature Project at Emma in providing funding to help keep the school running by selling earrings that I make to students at Emma. I also have a blog where I update my work in progress monthly, and I plan to write a children’s book this year about a girl named Aanadi who goes to school for the first time despite her being a girl and breaking the gender normalities in a small village in Bangladesh. I am working with artists at Emma to complete book illustrations, as well as two illustrations from a student at Pratt Institute. Additionally, I am in touch with another Emma Willard Alumnae, Khadija Ghanizada ’19, for assistance and inspiration as she wrote a book for her Signature Project as well. I hope to have this book published by the end of this year! 

On Knitting…

I would like to explore knitting! I learned how to do the first step when I was 12, but never got around to picking it up again. 

On Traditions…

I would definitely say Revels is my favorite tradition, but May Day comes as a close second! May Day is such a wonderful celebration of spring and the warm weather, and I love the music that plays as the freshmen dance with the lace around the Maypole. I was part of the May Court when I was a freshman, and I really enjoyed it. However, Revels is amazing. Even though my throat will hurt the next day from screaming so much, it truly is a night that will always be so emotional and fun. Last year’s Revels was so creative, and I was so proud of seeing the class of ’21 have their moment on the big screen and red carpet. I’m excited for this year’s Revels, too! I get to perform, finally! But that is all I am at liberty to say—you will have to wait and see which part I have! 

Thanks, Ashfia, for sharing your passions and contributing to the Emma Willard School community in unique and significant ways. We look forward to seeing the impact you will have as you continue to serve and shape our world!
    • Ashfia A. '22

    • Ashfia A. '22 and her mother

    • Ashfia A. '22 and friends

    • Ashfia A. '22 leading hair, makeup, and mask design for the fall play, In a Grove

    • Ashfia A. '22 as Ono in the fall play, In A Grove

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