Broadcast journalist Noor Tagouri was often told she would have to choose between her scarf and her job. Since childhood, she’s aspired to be the first hijabi anchor on a major commercial news network.
At her keynote address for the University of Connecticut’s Weekend of Welcome, Tagouri encouraged the incoming freshman class to be diligent, driven and honest with themselves.
For Tagouri, following this advice has meant wearing her scarf, even when she’s told that the social stigma against the hijab would make fulfilling her dreams harder.
“You can’t compromise your identity and expect people to still think you’re honest, and how can I expect my audience to trust me if I’m not honest with myself?” Tagouri said.
Tagouri has worked as an associate journalist for CBS Radio and a local reporter for CTV News in Washington D.C. She said the early days of her education were essential for launching her career and changed her as a person.
“(That was when) I decided I was just going to do start the things that I loved,” Tagouri said. “I would always share who I was and what I wanted to do.”
Tagouri said she was influenced by spoken word poets at her college and self-help books like Jack Canfield’s “The Success Principles.” All encouraged her to be more open and to make tangible reminders of what she aspired to be.
For Tagouri, this meant taking a photo behind an ABC News desk while she worked with the company and posting it to her Facebook page.
Tagouri emphasized the importance of shadowing experts in your chosen field.
“If you have any curiosity or spark in you regarding a topic, reach to people who do it,” Tagouri said.
She said as a journalism student, she sent emails to her icons whenever she was able, and stayed motivated even when she got no response.
“Everything you get will come from your work, but don’t be discouraged if they don’t answer your email or they say no,” Tagouri said. “Know people are really busy, and just move on to the next one.”
Tagouri told the audience to take charge in building their own careers.
“When you feel stuck doing something that you don’t love, take the risk now,” Tagouri said. “Look for something you’re passionate about.”
For Tagouri, this meant leaving a local news job that she felt limited her and moving on to create her own short documentary “The Trouble They’ve Seen: The Forest Haven Story” about abuse and negligence in an asylum for the mentally disabled.
Tagouri said her work is about helping the frequently silenced to have their voices heard and that her own successes are part of a broader narrative.
“Embracing your own legend isn’t just about you; it’s about those who came before you and will come after.”
Chris McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.