You Can Be Authentic — Myriam Imessaoudene (’21)
“You Can Be Authentic” — Myriam Imessaoudene (’21, Major in Corporate Finance & Accounting)
Myriam Imessaoudene rarely makes anything about herself, often placing the well-being of others first—but when the spotlight does fall upon her, she is sure to bring forth the most pure and authentic version of herself. Born to two Algerian immigrants in a New Jersey suburb, Myriam identifies first and foremost as Algerian—an identity that is rare, not only for the Bentley campus, but for where she grew up as well. At Bentley—a predominantly white campus—Myriam has found herself among organizations that best reflect her identity and the values she holds close. A senior now, Myriam has had numerous involvements including the Africana Student Association, Bentley Islamic Community, Bentley Multicultural Center, Coming Full Circle, and the newly implemented Racial Justice Task Force.
Most notably, Myriam is the current president of the Africana Student Association (ASA)— which she joined as a freshman, rising through the ranks from freshmen liaison to the club’s number one. In ASA, Myriam found a community with those who hail from various African cultures and backgrounds. Throughout her time in the club, she has played an important role in many of the events the club has put on, including the annual Gala. The Gala is arguably one of the largest events any club on campus hosts, often selling out and requiring a great deal of planning and coordination from the food to the entertainment. In discussing what the club has meant to her, she says, “I became more of myself” after joining, adding “it lets me be who I am, and embrace it.” The club has been central to her time here at Bentley, especially as an outlet to maintain the most significant part of her identity.
In light of the events that took place this past year, the new Racial Justice Task Force has quickly become a robust effort to combat racism of any kind and to help make Bentley an antiracist campus. Shortly after the announcement of its formation, Myriam did not have to think twice about joining it. The pride she takes in being an active member of the task force is palpable. In discussing her involvement with the task force, she humbly labels her participation as “honest work.” For Myriam, she saw participating on the task force as an imperative—a duty that she believes she has to those who are less privileged than her and those who don’t have as much of a voice as her. Myriam’s involvement is a clear reflection of the values that guide her through life.
“I’m seeing a change and very proud to be part of the change.”
In a year that hasn’t exactly confined itself to the norms of years past, this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration was no exception as the program forwent a keynote speaker and instead focused on highlighting student voices—while also being entirely virtual. For this year’s celebration, Myriam had the honor of delivering the invocation for the ceremony. For Myriam, this was a chance to stay true to the various pieces of her identity while also being a part of something that was much bigger than her. During her remarks, she said, “Despite the stains that have tarnished the perception of Islam, I have never been ashamed of who I am—it is a part of myself.” Myriam also used her faith to appeal to the good in people to be the best versions of ourselves, saying “[Her faith] is a devotion to humanity, it goes beyond action and delves into character.” Her words artfully reflected on her identity and values while embodying all that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.
“You must not change who you are to become a leader or to achieve things. Nothing should stop us from creating our own paths.”
There is a word in Arabic, “maktub,” that translates to “it is written” meaning fate or destiny—and for Myriam, it is a mantra; a principle that guides her. She believes that fate will undoubtedly disappoint us in life, but also bring us happiness. While we can’t do much do change fate, Myriam believes that we should always stay true to who we are. And she has done just that, as she has created a path for herself here at Bentley that has allowed her to embrace herself while simultaneously expanding her horizons.