Head of Asian Institute for Research and Engagement looks to dispel Muslim, Asian stereotypes
A Long Islander is looking to combat Asian discrimination through education.
Farrah Mozawalla, founder of the Asian Institute for Research and Engagement, says her parents came to the U.S. from Pakistan hoping to give their children a better life.
As a Muslim American, she says she encountered discrimination and remembers her gym teacher commenting on her hijab in high school.
"She berated me and said, 'This is America, you can't wear things like this,' Mozawalla says. "I think I spent the whole day in the bathroom crying."
Since then, Mozawalla felt compelled to educate others about her heritage and minority groups that she felt were misunderstood.
"Prior to 9/11, people thought I was a nun," Mozawalla says. "After 9/11, they thought I was a terrorist."
Mozawalla would become the first Muslim appointed as a department head in Nassau County as the executive director of Asian American affairs.
She says it's her job to eliminate stereotypes and that's why she got involved in public service and advocacy
Mozawalla now is the head of the Asian American Institute for Research and Engagement, which she founded, to empower and unite Asian Americans through education and awareness through numbers and data.
She says her mother first taught her how to dispel hate.
"Always be open-minded, keep your heart opens, always uplift people," Mozawalla says. "Those are the things I learned from my mom."
The Asian American Institute for Research and Engagement will conduct a poll of Asian American Long Islanders, who make up 11% of the population.