Alumna Fatema Basrai Featured in Forbes "30 Under 30 Education" List

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Fatema Basrai

Fatema Basrai

Fatema Basrai studied abroad at John Cabot University during the 2008-2009 academic year. Currently based in San Antonio, Texas, she is Executive Director of Leadership SAISD, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “inform, empower and inspire civically minded individuals to become leaders within the San Antonio education community.” She was recently featured in the prestigious Forbes “30 Under 30 Education” list in recognition of her leadership role in advocating for public education. 

What was your professional path after John Cabot University?
After my year abroad at JCU, I attended The University of Texas at Austin, my state’s leading public university. I had a variety of jobs and internships during my time in college. I worked for several non-profits, corporations, and spent a summer working at Goodby, Silverstein, and Partners, a large advertising agency in San Francisco. I graduated with a BS in Advertising in May 2012 and was recruited to join Teach for America. I originally planned to enter the corporate world after teaching, but I fell in love with education and saw the need to make a difference in the industry.

What role did John Cabot play in sorting out your life plan?
JCU helped me build my confidence in myself. I was 17 years old when I set out to come to JCU and had never traveled nor lived in Europe. I learned how to work with students and professors from all over the world, met amazing people, and got to travel around the world at a young age. At JCU, I started the volunteer group that would serve at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Shelter. I volunteered weekly during my year abroad. That experience was one of the first that led me to a life of community service.

How did your experience at John Cabot University prepare you for your career?
The life lessons I learned living abroad at a young age and away from my family helped me build confidence in myself. This confidence translated to interview skills. Potential employers were always impressed by my time abroad.

How much are you in touch with the JCU alumni network?
I actually met one of my closest friend while studying abroad. She is from the same town I live in now and we have been friends for almost 10 years!

If you had to give just one suggestion to current JCU students, what would it be?
Get work and internship experience! After graduation, employers will be interested in seeing what you have done. By the time I graduated, I had 4 internship experiences and that made my resume very attractive.

What motivated you to be an educator in the United States?
I saw the need for high-quality education in my own life. I attended high schools that were not particularly rigorous and struggled in college. Students in urban and rural areas in the US do not always get high-quality education so I wanted to help change that.

In your experience, which personal and professional qualities are necessary to be a successful educator?
I think the biggest trait needed to do the important work that educators do is resilience. Educators juggle many things at once and must keep a clear head at all times.

What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
In my role now, I connect community members with the tools and knowledge that they can use to improve education systems in San Antonio and be better advocates for students in need. The most challenging part is working with different stakeholders and managing a variety of interests. But I love talking to and working with people who want to make a difference in the world.

If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?
I believe that everything happens for a reason so I would not change anything.

What does it mean for you to be in the Forbes “30 Under 30 Education” list?
It was a great honor for me to be nominated for and added to this list. I am passionate about education and I’m looking forward to connecting with others who are as well.