Nibras Khudaida, a sophomore in the Heider College of Business, spoke at the United Nations Youth Assembly, which was held from Feb. 14-16 in New York City, advocating for equality for women in education and for religious minorities.
Khudaida and her family were forced to flee their village of Sreshka, Iraq, by the Islamic State group when Khudaida was only 16.
They immigrated to Lincoln, Nebraska, and Khudaida eventually enrolled at Creighton.
Khudaida said she struggled getting an education because of the gender inequalities she faced as a woman in Iraq.
She said people would ask her things like, “What’s the point of sending you to school?” and “What’s the purpose of you taking this exam? You should be home. You should be cleaning.”
Khudaida said her father was adamant that she pushed through the barriers to attend school.
“Education means everything to me and my future,” she said. “It’s the future that I always wanted. Sitting down in the house and taking care of the kids, being a housewife and doing household chores — that’s not what I wanted my future to be.”
She said she knew the best way to break that mold was to get an education. Now, as an economics and international relations major on the pre-law track, Khudaida is chasing what she said is her dream of working for the United States in the Middle East to protect religious minorities and women.
“I think of her as being undaunted,” said James Wingender, Khudaida’s adviser and an instructor in the Heider College of Business. “She looks at every situation as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. She’s the type of person that gives me hope for the future.”
Caitlin Feldmann, a business career adviser at the John P. Fahey Career Center, said she has gotten to know Khudaida well through one-on-one appointments.
“Nibras is the most intentional and compassionate student I have met at Creighton, and her story and experiences are inspiring to say the very least,” Feldmann said. “Nibras is changing the world every day, both right here from Creighton’s campus and on a global stage, and I know she will continue to do such incredible things in the future.”
This praise was echoed by Khudaida’s friend, Joanna Conings, a third-year student in the College of Professional Studies at Creighton, who is working on getting her M.A. in English.
“[Nibras] is one of the strongest women I know,” Conings said. “Her life wasn’t easy, but she took all the pain and suffering and transformed it into passion and love, fighting every day to be heard and raise awareness for her cause.”