Noor El-Baradie grew up in Saudi Arabia, frequently visiting family in Egypt. And when she came to UNC in 2019, El-Baradie said she immediately looked for an Arab community on campus.
Feeling inspired by her older sister, who found community and friends through the Arab Student Network at McGill University, El-Baradie said she was excited to discover UNC’s Arab Student Organization (ASO) on Heel Life.
After being one of two Arab students at her Delaware high school, El-Baradie said being the “odd one out” forced her to understand and feel secure in heridentity, making her eager to continue connecting with her culture through ASO.
However, through conversations with members of the Muslim Student Association, she learned that the club no longer existed after its previous leadership graduated. Since El-Baradie could not join the ASO, she decided to restart it instead.
“I really wanted to connect with people who are like me and cared about their identity and sort of understood life the way that I looked at it,” she said.
With the help of her friend Rama Yasin, the two first-years worked to build the organization from the ground up with the mission of connecting Arab students on campus and spreading Arab culture to the broader UNC community.
Specifically, El-Baradie and Yasin said they wanted to make ASO a secular organization for all Arab students – recognizing that Arab identity is not homogenous but extremely diverse and independent from religion.
“People think that Arabs and Muslims are synonymous," El-Baradie said. "But that's not true."
El-Baradie is a senior and president of ASO. She said the organization is stronger than ever and she anticipates continued success.