Student Success Story: Zara Raheem
By Taylor Thorne
MFA student Zara Raheem love for creative writing has shone through in profound and meaningful way. Her writings can be found in various publications such as the Huffington Post. Although, she has achieved many successes with her career, this year has brought on new challenges from release of her first novel, The Marriage Clock. Respected as a funny and light-hearted book about love, family, and friendship. This novel has not only been an accumulation of hard work and support, but also an extension of her heritage.
While receiving high praise for her achievements as a writer, Zara admits her struggles of finding her way to the craft. “Growing up, there weren’t many South Asian-American writers out there, so I just assumed that writing was not meant for someone like me. Though I enjoyed writing, this lack of representation led me to doubt my abilities and question whether the stories I wrote were even worth telling.” Even with the absence of representation, Zara still felt an innate pull to write. She continues, “However, as an adult, I felt compelled to challenge this belief: hence, receiving my MFA (and eventually getting a book deal) has given me renewed confidence and a sense of validation that writing is the avenue I am meant to pursue.”
While ambition and drive gave encouragement to persist with writing, she also dedicates her successes to a strong support system. From professors, peers, colleagues, and family members, she notes their support provided motivation for her to keep pushing forward. While receiving accolades such as the James Murashe Jr. Memorial award in addition to being selected for the 2019’s Harriet Williams Emerging Writers, she doesn’t define her success solely on GPA or these accolades. “It’s more about personal development and achieving a growth mindset. If I am able to accomplish my goals through integrity, hard works, and through a process that expands my knowledge and enables me to grow as an individual, I consider that to be much more meaningful.”
Furthermore, Raheem also notes the role of the school in her success. Going beyond the class room, she shares, “CSULB has afforded me countless opportunities as an emerging writer-from teaching and mentorship opportunities, to attending literary festivals, to reading at open mics and participating in workshops led by renowned writer like Aracelis Girmay and Cherrie Moraga. All of these experiences have not only developed my skills as a writer, but they have taught me what it means to live a “writerly” life.” In all, Zara Raheem works as an inspiration for those pursing their dreams, no matter the adversity. As of now, she continues to write and teach creative writing and English classes, giving back and serving those just as she was helped.