Noor Tagouri is a 19-year-old college student wanting to become the first Muslim hijabi anchorwoman in America. She was the youngest commencement student speaker at Prince George’s Community College in 2012 at the age of 18 and spoke at the 53rd Commencement Exercises of Prince George’s Community College. Noor is currently attending the University of Maryland and is majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in International Development and Conflict Management.
MH: You recently became the youngest commencement speaker at Prince George’s Community College at the age of 18 years old. Most students are graduating high school at that age. How did you get to become the youngest student speaker at Prince George’s Community College?
During my junior year of high school, I was taking a college course in the evening and had tested into the honors program at the community college. I decided to homeschool my senior year of high school that summer and start in the program that fall. I took summer and winter classes as well in order to graduate within a year and a half, and finished at 18, alhamdulilah.
Tell us more about your experience being one of the younger students in your school. What challenges did you face? What was your experience like?
I’ve always been one of the youngest in my classes because of my late birthday, but being the youngest in my crowd of college friends was never a challenge, it was a blessing. I had a plethora of mentors, advisors, and “older school siblings,” that were constantly looking out for me. The Honors Program at Prince George’s Community College really is like a school family. I loved being the “baby” of the group. There was never any animosity or negativity in our friendship circle, and I was even nicknamed “Little NoNo.” Man, I miss them!
MH: You’re attending the University of Maryland College Park. How do you feel about changing universities? What are your expectations of the university and of yourself?
I’m glad I can finally taking only courses that are towards my major and minor. I’m excited to learn more and gain the skills I need for my field! UMD has one of the country’s top journalism schools and has an incredible international development conflict management program (my minor.) So, I’m really learning a lot and am just trying to soak in as much as possible.
MH: Recently, you’ve begun a campaign to become the first Muslim American hijabi news anchor on television and have inspired a lot of Muslim American hijabis. What drives you to become a journalist?
I’ve always wanted to be a broadcast journalist or tv personality. I’ve always loved asking questions and telling stories. It was the only career I wanted since I was 8. I think it’s important for people to have their voices heard to the masses. But, when going through national television stations, you don’t see too much diversity. I’m going to change that, inshallah.
Honestly, that’s a tough question. What first comes to mind is something like GMA on ABC, or a show on CNN. Possibly my own show on the OWN Network, since Oprah is one of my biggest inspirations and Lisa Ling kept telling me how amazing it is to work for Oprah! And when I’m older, possibly something like The View? We’ll just have to see what God has in His plans for me.
MH: Have you spoken to other Muslim American hijabis or Muslims who work in media? What advice have they given you?
I’ve spoken to few. They tell me it’ll be tough for me to make it, the field isn’t too friendly for hijabis. The Muslim women who know me personally that have advised me throughout my life and work in the media are my mentors. And have constantly encouraged me and helped me get to where I am. They tell me it’ll be hard, but they’re certain I can do it.
MH: What challenges do you feel women who wear the hijab in media-related jobs and entertainment? How can we as Muslim Americans overcome them?
I think the challenges vary amongst the women. Some challenges would include the limitations between the opposite gender and others would be obviously be maintaining modest dress.
MH: You’ve met a lot of famous celebrities and high level celebrities. How did you get to meet them? Who have you met that made the biggest impact on you? What advice did they give you?
A lot of the prominent journalists I’ve met and talked to were as a result of attending the right events, networking, and being persistent…Anderson Cooper, Lisa Ling, Ted Koppel, Wolf Blitzer, Martha Raddatz. The artists I have met were as a result of working at one of DC’s biggest radio stations WPGC….Lupe Fiasco, Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado, Big Sean, Trey Songz, OAR, Ashanti etc etc. I’d have to say the best encounter was with Lisa Ling because I met her on my 19th birthday for my birthday dinner and we talked a lot! She gave me a lot of advice and insight on her career. We still keep in touch.
MH: You’re still early on in your career, but what advice would you give those Muslim American hijabis seeking to pursue your career path?