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My Journey to Become a Journalist With 22q Deletion Syndrome

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I graduated from The College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Journalism and Professional Writing, which is almost unheard of for a lot of people with 22q deletion syndrome. I also have a driver’s license, so I guess I’m luckier than most, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

When applying for jobs, I’m often left wondering if I should even list that I have a learning disability or a rare disease, since I struggle with math more than English. After I shared my story on the 22q support forum, someone from the 22q organization asked if they could interview me. Although I said yes, I was somewhat baffled.

When I was younger, I went to an Islamic school after spending elementary at a public school. I struggled to try to catch up to others in my class. Granted, none of them knew I had 22q deletion syndrome and I was relatively picky about who knew. I had a high school teacher tell my mom she didn’t think I’d graduate from high school. The very same teacher got me a graduation gift when I graduated from high school and later, from college. Not to say that I didn’t have supportive teachers, but sometimes focusing on proving someone wrong can be a massive motivation.

I have to say, being selected as the only person with 22q deletion syndrome wearing the hijab on the 22q site is something I’m definitely proud of. I can’t believe how far I’ve come, and if you’d like to read my story you can find it here: Amani’s Story.

I like to tell people I’m more than just my disability. I’ve interviewed NYT best-selling authors S.K. Ali and Sandhya Menon. I have even interviewed the writer from “Bo Jack Horseman,” Minhal Baig. I currently have a bookstagram where I post about books. I’m the host of my own podcast, Raise Your Words where my friend Andrea and I talk about everything from pop culture, book club segments, cooking segments, to politics and culture. I have interned at The Tempest and Muslim Girl. I’m extremely happy with how far I’ve come but that’s not to say that I don’t have my off days where I question being a Journalism major or wonder if I’ll make a better journalist than Rory Gilmore was in the hit series, “Gilmore Girls.”

Overall, I’m grateful that I’ve come so far despite the struggles I face while job hunting (being both a Muslim and someone who has a learning disability). However, there’s a comfort knowing my options are also wide open. I try to remind myself of that while I’m applying for jobs. If you’re also struggling during these unprecedented times, I want you to know that you’re not alone!

Originally published: January 25, 2021
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