Justin Vargas" />

The LaGuardia President’s Society hosted a dinner on February, 26, 2017 at for two honored guests: a writer who’s a world-renowned, journalist Gail Sheehy. The event also honored Dr. Amra Sabic El-Rayess: a Columbia University professor.

The President’s Society was created for students to improve their networking, communication, and career planning skills. Zakia Mahabub, the student ambassador of the President’s Society, briefly discussed her involvement in Ms. Sheehy’s upcoming book before she introduced her.

The theme of the event was the determination and will to overcome personal, economical, and gender barriers created by society.

Ms. Sheehy, the author of seventeen books, walked up to the podium while smiling and thanked the attendees in her seventh visit to LAGCC to date. She read a passage from her book, Daring, which she worked on for three years.

Her lecture began with the question to the audience if the audience “had ever challenged social norms?” Many in the audience confirmed with their raised hands. She continued with a story about her abortion just three weeks into her college journey.

A man Ms. Sheehy dated got her pregnant and was ready to marry him due to her religious beliefs. She resumed explaining that her first act of challenging social norms happened when she went against her religious beliefs to get an abortion.

The author’s writing is known as ‘new journalism,’ a term that kept the traditional five W’s with an addition of placing the writer’s “self and scenery.” Ms. Sheehy is most known for her influential memoir Passages, the book she explained that coined a new definition for the word passage. The book was influenced by the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) she suffered by her Herald Review’s coverage of the 1972 Northern Ireland Protest, when a bullet whizzed by her head.

Many of the audience were shocked to discover the trauma Ms. Sheehy experienced and stared at her with an amazement. Many spectators sat upright with their eyes fixated on her while she had been explaining her unwillingness to allow British soldiers to destroy her recorder which was her only proof to tell the story how a peaceful protest turned into a violence because the British government controlled Ireland. Ms. Sheehy left the podium with a loud applause.

In the next part that followed, Selma Sk, a former student ambassador for the President Society, introduced Dr. Amra Sabic El-Rayess. Dr. El- Rayess approached the podium while appearing visibly moved by her introducer’s emotional speech. Dr. El-Rayess started her discussion by asking the audience if they “shared commonality with author’s life stories” and many in the audience raised their hands once again.

Dr. El-Rayess explained the hardship she endured by the war in Bosnia that took place from 1992- 1995. Dr. El-Rayess explained that the war left a small number of books for education. “I became a book,” she added. She had a desire to retain all the knowledge she could with a few books that were not destroyed by the war.

The speechless audience watched Dr. El-Rayess in amazement while she continued her story how she came to America. Uplifted with Philadelphia’s bright lights while being modest with money she explained she got her B.A in Economics from Brown University by being persistent.

She advised the audience to conquer their dreams and goals with their grit and to never succumb to an adversity but to always seek knowledge. She stated that the words of her father to continue to obtain knowledge can never be stolen. Ms. El-Rayess followed with knowledge her father shared and passed on to the audience.

The event was concluded with a session of intimate questions and answers which was divided in two groups: group A went with Ms. Sheehy and group B with Dr. El-Rayess. Paola Cruz, an intern student for LaGuardia’s newspaper The Bridge, asked Ms. Sheehy “what advice would she give to an inspiring journalist.” She responded that “we must always remember the five W’s of journalism and write the story by coordinating events that follow.”