BASSAM SHAWL

"For more general audiences across the country, a lot of them don’t personally know someone from an Islamic background, and their primary understanding of Muslims/brown people is from what they see on TV or read on their respective internet bubbles. In these crazy political times, I like using humor to diffuse tensions between different demographics because laughing at our own biases and stereotypes is sometimes the only way for us to start questioning them seriously."

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MARY-EVELYN HUNT

"I was a mama’s girl growing up and when I lost her I felt like I matured overnight. I needed to be strong for my dad, my brother and my Mimi and so that’s what I did. I got tough. Some would probably say I got mean. It really hardened me. I was angry at life and felt like I had lost control of what was happening around me so I took control of myself and my life and I started LIVING. I traveled places, I made bold decisions and I got very honest with myself. I decided I would rather chase after what I love and take a chance than sit and wait for good things to happen to me."

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ALEX CHUNG

"I think fear comes from your subconscious. When doing something new for the first time with little knowledge on how exactly to do it, fear will always be in the back of your mind. With fear however, I think we can use this as a great motivator. It's kind of like getting inside your car and going on a road trip to a different state at night. All you can see is those 30 yards of light in front of you, and you know that’s all you need to get you to your destination."

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ZENAS HAN

"I hate the word 'smart' because it’s so arbitrary, yet it holds so much weight. This is entirely conjecture, but I think placing students in 'gifted' or 'honors' classes before high school has a much larger ripple than we care to think about. Not only do you affect the students selected for these gifted programs, but you are also indirectly sending a message to the other kids – “you are not gifted” – and I wonder what kind of impact that has on a child’s future. Again, this is all hypothetical, but I’d get rid of gifted and 'advanced' classes before high school. We should be able to encourage intellectual ambition without marginalizing the majority of insecure, impressionable students."

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MIRAY ALANLAR

"But, when I ask people about love, they tell me about heartbreak. When I ask people about belonging, they tell me about their experiences of being excluded. When I ask people about connection, their stories tell about disconnection. I realized that we are all vulnerable, and I stopped saying: I’m not good enough, promoted enough, fortunate enough, etc. Instead I became a Life is Messy! Love it type of person. I learned vulnerability and what vulnerable means to me. I stopped controlling and predicting the world we live in."

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NIKOLETA MORALES

"There are so many feelings inside all of us that today’s society encourages us to suppress. It seems as though we are only accepted when we are happy. That is not only unrealistic, but also absurd. People should be allowed to feel whatever emotion comes their way, acknowledge it and accept it. Then, you can actually start to work on being happy because you are allowed to be human."

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TALLIA DELJOU

"Vulnerability seems to be a buzzword these days, and it comes up a lot in coaching with my clients. What’s fascinating is that the definition of vulnerability is 'the state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked our harmed, either physically or emotionally.' I think this definition shows us that vulnerability is tied to fears –fear of judgement, fear of uncertainty, fear of rejection. The irony of it all is that so many people feel alone in their experiences (good or bad), and at the same time have so much resistance to be vulnerable."

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ISADORA ITALIA

"Many who study art have heard the phrase 'in conversation with' – it’s our way of acknowledging that there is a give and take between everything. Colors can be in conversation with each other; paintings hanging on opposite sides of a room can touch upon similar themes and open up comparisons. When it comes to difficult or polarizing topics, I often listen more than I speak. I keep an open mind for as long as I can. I withhold judgment until I can acknowledge and understand the opposing side. While I have certain values and beliefs I hold dear, I never let it cloud my ability to engage in conversation."

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SHANTEL KHLEIF

"This year I am trying to focus on one key word and focus my actions and goals around this term. For 2016 I decided on the word 'pause.' This word has certainly encouraged me to be more mindful of the people around me, my environment, and my day-to-day decisions. I wouldn't say I'm extremely spiritual (yet) but I am more cognizant & mindful of my health and wellness this year more so than in the past." 

 

 

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ANTOINETTE MINOR

"Millennials want an experience rather than a job. We don't just want a 9-5 to punch in & out and earn a paycheck. We want to feel fulfilled by the work we do and contribute to society. Corporations can appeal to Millennials by being open to our opinions, knowledge & willingness. By taking a chance with a hardworking Millennial whom is willing to learn, you can raise employees who will be beneficial to the organization." 

 

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RAMZI SALAMOUN

"I like fear, because it drives me to question myself: why am I afraid of this? It's a form of self-discovery; it pushes you to answer questions that we typically ignore in the face of uncertainty. One question will lead to another and another, and eventually you will have all the answers you need to overcome that fear."

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KARIM ELIBIARY

"Picasso once said that every child is an artist, and that the problem is remaining an artist when we grow up. There is an Art to everything we do; creativity is a vital tool when attempting to master a certain skill. As we plunge deeper into a time when change is inevitable, I seek to eventually provide my Architecture knowledge required for positive societal growth. Where there is growth, there are Artists."

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NIKI ZARRABI

"I am spiritual but not so much in a religious sense as I am in a more scientific way. Like the concepts of my own art, my understanding of creating life in a literal, biological approach, has introduced me to realizing how connected everyone & every living being is. We all come from the same energies, the same elemental compositions. This understanding creates a beautiful sense of unity for me."

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SARA ESLAMI

"I am a survivor of domestic violence. My ex-boyfriend in college was abusive. I thank him every day for it because it turned me into the strong woman and fighter that I am today. Feeling as vulnerable and helpless as I did at the time was another reason why I decided to go to law school, because I never wanted to feel helpless ever again."

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ROSTAM ZAFARI

"Yet, the aim of education is to unlock our potential —so why is it that our systems often un-educate us? Imagine if all of us could spend less time doing what was expected and spend more time chasing our own skies"

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OMEED FATEMI

"To be aware is to be honest with ourselves, because no else can answer these questions for you. Often our images of ourselves are so vastly different from what we actually are. Very rarely do we get a glimpse of the real person behind the mirror." 

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BECA CASTEL

"Social media is used as a platform to showcase our "material status." We create and feed our alter ego through these things. Human behavior hasn't changed. Gold was man's first material possession. I wanted to take it back to the beginning." 

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CHELSEA COOK

"My advice would be to not be your own worst enemy. For a long time in my life I was my own worst enemy, and it did nothing to help me. In this world if you can't love yourself, count on yourself, believe in yourself, then no one else truly will." 

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DIANA RUIZ

"One approach that's really improved my life is not regretting anything and learning from even the worst moments. I've learned the most in life from the times when I've felt the most vulnerable and uncomfortable." 

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