AAUW Fellow Teizeen Mohamedali Pays it Forward

April 18, 2012

How would you thank a woman who helped you achieve your career goals?

Teizeen Mohamedali, a 2009–10 AAUW Selected Professions Fellow, developed a lasting connection with the sponsor of her fellowship. Elisabeth Bathgate’s generous support helped Mohamedali pursue a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Mohamedali remains truly grateful for the support that Bathgate, a dedicated member of the AAUW Hayward-Castro Valley (CA) Branch, has provided over the years — both academic and personal. Because of this close friendship, Mohamedali has prioritized paying it forward in her career and in her support of women’s education.

Mohamedali has been academically curious since she was a young girl. She eagerly awaited the arrival of her parents’ subscription to National Geographic each month. As she flipped through the pages, she wished that she could be one of the scientists mentioned in the articles. Although Mohamedali had a passion for nature, when given the choice in high school, she opted to drop chemistry and pursue economics and art instead. But college offered a vast array of options, which allowed her to merge many sciences, including engineering, into her course work as an environmental science major. Her passion for science has blossomed even more since then, and she puts her talents to good use in the United States and beyond.

In summer 2009, Mohamedali and her husband volunteered with Sustainable Aid in Africa International in her home country, Kenya, assisting with water projects for primary schools in this western region. Mohamedali currently works as an environmental engineer on water quality projects at the Washington State Department of Ecology. For one project, which is devoted to improving the water quality of Puget Sound, Mohamedali performs engineering analyses to estimate current and future nutrient loads under different scenarios of population and climate change. This information is being used to develop a water quality model of Puget Sound, which will help predict what the water quality might look like in the future.

Regardless of her path — in government, at an NGO, or in an academic setting — Mohamedali will continue to be a positive role model for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). But more than that, she gives her talents back to her community — in the United States and beyond — and she would like to open up the possibility of STEM careers to more young girls. Mohamedali knows firsthand that one woman can make an impact — just like Bathgate did through her financial support and her friendship.

Whenever they need a reminder of how much women can help each other, Bathgate and Mohamedali can look to the unique gifts they exchanged. Bathgate made Mohamedali a kaleidoscope, while Mohamedali gave Bathgate — who loves bird-watching — a photo of a bird from a trip to Mount Kenya. Mohamedali has thanked her friend by being appreciative and academically curious — and by paying it forward. Sponsoring a Kenyan girl’s high school education in is one way that Mohamedali reminds herself of the importance of education for girls in her home country, where women have far fewer academic opportunities.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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