As a first-generation immigrant coming from a non-English speaking, low-income household, it was the support of my teachers and mentors that allowed me to not only get to college but to also navigate through it. For this reason, I decided to pay them back by paying it forward as an educator myself and using my own lived experiences as a way to better support my students.”

Syeda’s Story

Teaching Discipline


Why Science

“With the world rapidly evolving, science has always been something that helped me to understand what was happening around me. Science allows for knowledge to be constructed in critical and nuanced ways, and with many of the issues today having a socioscientific connection, understanding science provides important tools to make important, real-world decisions.”

Professional Experience

From 2015 to 2016, Syeda served as an E3! (Educate, Engage, & Empower) Ambassador for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Through this initiative, she organized a resource conference for undocumented students and families, which was attended by over 300 students, families, educators, and allies.

Syeda has also worked as a research assistant for the Development of Immigrant Youth in Action Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, through which she published several articles focused on identity and undocumented immigrant students.

Syeda will begin her third year as an educator teaching at Glenbard East High School during the 2019–2020 school year.

Volunteer Experience

Syeda served as part of the Anhelo Project Dream Scholarship Review Committee. In this position, she reviewed Dream Scholarship applications submitted by undocumented students in the Chicagoland area to select scholarship recipients.

She also volunteered with various organizations, including the Latino Policy Forum and the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, to help advocate for issues affecting various immigrant communities.


Syeda enjoys watching basketball or Netflix, reading books, and doing community work.

Academic Background

  • University of Illinois at Chicago (Master of Education in Science Education)
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience)