Student Spotlight: Sophomore Azreen Abrar serves as youth consultant for nonprofit supporting South Asian community


Sophomore Azreen Abrar.

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Earlier this school year, sophomore Azreen Abrar obtained an internship as the primary youth consultant for the South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship, and Training Organization (SAFEST), a nonprofit that works to support civic engagement with the South Asian community.

“[The SAFEST] Organization’s purpose is to combat social injustice towards the community in New York City and beyond,” Azreen said.

Late December, New York City Mayor Eric Adams passed a bill that expanded access to halal food across NYC schools. Azreen joined the SAFEST organization at City Hall to celebrate, “It was my first project with the organization. I went there as a youth speaker and shared my experiences,” she said. In particular, she focused on food, a symbol of a culture she believes needs to be celebrated. She said that many places outside of New York do not offer as much access. “It’s my goal to [spread] this outside New York State,” she said.

On World Hijab Day, Azreen actively spread awareness with SAFEST. She said, “I gave a speech about my experiences, and the stereotypes and misconceptions women wearing Hijabs faced after 9/11.” 

Azreen expressed her appreciation for the head of the SAFEST organization, Mazeda Uddin. “Being with [the] organization, I felt a sense of community, and I can trust [Ms. Uddin]. People recognized and respected her,” she said.  She said Ms. Uddin specifically taught her “how to be proactive rather than reactive.”

Azreen said that Townsend Harris helped facilitate her experience in the internship. “THHS helped me so much, I’m grateful for the support [and] guidance this school gave me,” she said. In particular, she said principal Brian Condon helped her manage events and reviewed her work before she went public, constantly opening his schedule to help her. 

Mr. Condon, who attended the World Hijab Day event spoke to The Classic about how fond he was of Azreen and her projects. “[Upon meeting Azreen] I thought she was a bright young lady; she seemed very enthusiastic and [like] a capable speaker,” he said.  He said that his main role when working with devoted youth like Azreen is to keep their mindset realistic and to help them understand their capabilities and limitations. 

One piece of advice he shared with Azreen was to “keep the thing about the thing,” which would help her to ensure her speech’s message wouldn’t get diluted.