Ibtihaj Muhammad visited Harvard-Westlake (HW) as a panel speaker during assembly hosted by the Black Leadership and Culture Club (BLACC) on Feb. 25.
Muhammad is the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while representing the United States in the Olympic Games. She spoke about what fencing means to her and her journey towards winning bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Muhammad began fencing when she was 13 years old and competed as a sabre fencer at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She began fencing because it was difficult to modify her sports uniforms for other sports to make them fit Muslim hijab requirements. Fencing was the one sport that required a full body uniform, therefore Muhammad did not have to change what she wore. Many Muslim women choose to wear hijab meaning that they cover all of their body accept their hands and face.
Muhammad also started a clothing brand known as Louella, a brand designed to create modest and stylish clothing. According to Louella’s website, the brand “delivers a new fresh and vibrant look to the modest fashion industry.”
History teacher and interviewer Lauren Nichols ‘07 explained that she enjoyed speaking to Muhammad. Nichols graduated from Duke University and was a classmate of Muhammad.
“I thought it was super fun. She was really charismatic and easy to talk to. I enjoyed getting to ask her questions. I am glad that she came and that people enjoyed it,” Nichols said.
Students said Muhammad’s story was inspiring and that she affected them as a panel speaker.
“Ibtihaj was really inspiring and empowering. It was great to see someone who paved their own path so successfully,” Shoshie Bernstein ‘22 said.