For the third consecutive year, Auburn University at Montgomery alumna Aya Zaied will visit campus to share her perspective on living as a Muslim in the South.
Zaied, Montgomery’s representative of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), will discuss misconceptions about Muslims and Islam during the forum “Being Muslim in Alabama” hosted by the AUM-Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Campus Club. Her talk is set for Thursday, March 12, from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in Goodwyn Hall 109.
The AUM-SPLC on Campus forum was established to fight injustice and intolerance on campus and in communities, said Assistant Professor of Political Science Pia Knigge, whose research areas include studying American Muslims. The forum, co-sponsored by the AUM Muslim Student Association (MSA), is free and open to the public.
“With the forum we want to promote diversity and inclusion, both on campus and within the community,” said Knigge, who serves as faculty advisor of AUM-SPLC on Campus. “We also want to educate the AUM community about the struggles Muslims face, correct widespread stereotypes, and provide a platform to ask questions about the Islamic faith and practices.”
In addition to her work with CAIR, Zaied has been engaged in interfaith education and initiatives, establishing herself as a well-known and respected public figure in Montgomery and beyond. She is the founder of AUM’s Muslim Student Association and was a member of the University Honors Program at AUM. The Honors program’s Aya Zaied Leadership and Service Award, which recognizes students who demonstrate an exceptional degree of commitment to serving others, is named in her honor.
Zaied is an engaging and thoughtful speaker on social injustice, said AUM-SPLC on Campus Club President Dottie Durango, who recalls Zaied sharing at a 2018 AUM event how her car was regularly vandalized.
“Hearing about her experiences is very eye opening, and I think it is important for others to have an opportunity to hear her share this with them and be able to engage in conversation with her about it,” Durango said. “It’s easy for people to assign negative stereotypes to people we are unfamiliar with. I think having Aya speak on campus will prompt everyone to re-evaluate how they view and treat others.”
Zaied earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from AUM and is a graduate of Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones Law School.