"You Can Be an Advocate," - Kimia Pourshadi ('20, B.A. English Language and Literature)
“To be an advocate is to be a supporter and a mentor, it is to show empathy and resilience, and it is to provide opportunity and education.”
Ever since a young age, Kimia knew that representation would be a critical part of her future. As a middle eastern woman growing up in a small town, she didn’t always have a person that looked like her. Navigating the ambiguity of identity became a defining factor in her every day and soon shaped her experience at Bentley University.
With a passion for literature, Kimia came to college to pursue an English major and law minor while still getting a strong exposure to business fundamentals through the Bentley curriculum. Over the past four years she has been heavily involved in the campus community and trailblazed a unique path. She is a manager at the Valente Research Center for Arts and Sciences, member of the Falcon Society, Student Director at the Writing Center, Resident Assistant, Honors Council Treasurer, and Coming Full Circle member. Through each involvement and leadership experience, Kimia has created a platform and lens for advocacy and representation.
As a female, minority, and first-generation college student, Kimia recognized that representation is incredibly powerful for students. On the other side of the same token, she couldn’t find people in her personal life that were this advocate, this voice, this role model to represent her.
In the fall of 2018, Kimia participated in a retreat with Coming Full Circle, the woman’s dialogue group for the Multicultural Center, where she heard other female narratives from all different backgrounds and diversities. She notes that “not only did this experience allow me to personally grow and find comfort in vulnerability but it also shed light on the importance of being an ally while also an advocate.” Kimia further explores advocacy at Bentley through her role in The Valente Center as the Research Manager. Is this a quote? “Research is the opportunity to continue a narrative that is rooted in passion and experiences for each individual.” She recalls that her first research project was focused on representation of identity through Iranian film and its influence on modern-day perception. Now as the manager, she helps others develop published work that elicits underlying notions that they want to represent and advocate for, even if they didn’t know it at first.
“Research offers a piece of education allowing one to decrease ignorance on a topic and encourage a sense of curiosity, foster change, and create an open dialogue. Research is advocacy just written down.”
It’s important to be an advocate wherever you see necessary on campus. From your student organizations to your dorm halls to even in your classrooms. Kimia goes on to say “if you see something, say something” by simply creating a dialogue and opening a conversation around the topic you are offering the opportunity to stand up for what you believe in. The power of your voice should never be underestimated or underrepresented.
This is a core element to the way she operates and encourages others to do the same because “An act of injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
-Martin Luther King Jr
With future professional pursuits at the top of mind, Kimia hopes to continue this thread of advocacy into the legal field after graduation. Keeping this virtue at the backbone of her next steps to find a passion intersects business, policy, and law. She notes that these values can be translated into the framework of law especially within immigration and civil rights law to provide opportunities for underprivileged and underrepresented individuals.
“I learned to be an advocate for others by learning to first be an advocate for myself.”