Okemos High School senior puts diversity on display

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Okemos High School senior Asha Mukhtar took control at this year’s Diversity Assembly with her own act, the first cultural fashion show.

The community has a total of about 30 percent minorities enrolled. The Diversity Assembly is a yearly show at the school. Students can show off their ethnicities and share cultural facts with the entire school and community.

On her Twitter, Mukhtar tweeted, “I truly think this is the one thing I’ll remember from HS. I single handedly gathered everyone and organized this by myself. I had the help of music from some really cool people but I really pulled through, I’m proud.”

Since she was a freshman, Mukhtar couldn’t help but feel pressure of wanting to leave a cultural impact in a primarily white institution. Before she knew it, it was her final year in high school, and she had put nothing into action. Mukhtar is proud of her Somali heritage and wanted to express her love for it in a way she hadn’t done.

“I wanted my peers to be involved, too,” Mukhtar said. “The one thing all cultures can get excited about is fashion.”

However, social anxiety made things a lot harder for Asha. She tried to reach out to other students to pitch an idea that she needed people to participate in.

For about a month, Mukhtar started networking with upperclassmen and taking in ideas or suggestions for the show. When she got a solid number of participants, they began practicing twice a week for about a month. Many people began to drop out and gave up hope because they didn’t think Mukhtar would pull through.

“Many people were sure I was only going to embarrass myself, but with the support of my new friends, we pieced together music and a formation for the fashion show,” Mukhtar said.

Marie Knaus, a foreign exchange student, was immediately interested in participating. She loves that the school gives individuals an opportunity to express their culture.

“I didn’t see it as something I had to do, but rather as something I really wanted to do myself,” Knaus said. “I feel somewhat proud of everyone in the group for being apart of the first diversity fashion show.”

The costumes for the show were from students’ wardrobes from home that they usually wore for weddings or special occasions. Some students had their parents make custom outfits.

During the show, many students were frazzled, and Mukhtar spent most of her time consoling her peers. Although she was excited and frantic herself, her priority was to have things run smoothly.

When the show was over, many of her peers praised Mukhtar for her hard work and dedication for her first project. Faculty members told her what a great idea it was. Muktar’s perseverance and diligence will not go unnoticed.

Ariel Saah, a senior, was very proud and excited to be able to celebrate her culture with her peers.

“Asha did a phenomenal job with planning and executing,” Saah said. “I hope people continue it next year because for someone like me, who is one of three people in my whole school from Cameroon, it wasn’t possible for me to come up with something, but with the fashion show, I was able to express to OHS (Okemos High School) my culture.”

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