Traveling to a new country can be challenging, but if you’re coming to put down roots and pursue an education and career, the obstacles may seem overwhelming. Women Walking West (W3) helps foreign-born women legally living in the United States achieve their career dreams and education goals by overcoming the challenges of living and studying in a different culture.
“We fundamentally believe education can change the world and impact the economic welfare of our communities,” W3 founder and chair of the board of directors, Dr. George Sehi remarks. “When you provide education opportunities for one woman, there is a trickle-down effect for generations. These women are positively impacting their families and communities here and around the world.”
As a young man from Iran studying in the United States, and during his career in higher education advising students, Dr. Sehi was personally aware of the challenges international students face, especially women from underdeveloped countries. “Women coming to the U.S. to pursue their educational dreams have a greater disadvantage than foreign-born men. For example, in some cultures, education is mainly accessible for men, so women may be unsure about interacting in the classroom or with their teachers,” explains Dr. Sehi.
Since 2015, the nonprofit organization has served 140 women from 38 different countries providing the assistance needed to be successful and productive in school and life by working to remove the cultural, academic, language, financial and social barriers they may experience on their education journey.
What distinguishes W3 from other organizations is their core strategy of one-on-one mentoring. Each woman in the program is paired with a professional in their field of study. One ‘perfect match,’ as Dr. Sehi describes it, is mentor and W3 founding board member Dr. Vijaya Reddy and mentee Reham Gaafar.
Born and raised in India, where she graduated from medical school, Dr. Reddy came to the U.S. in 2001. To practice medicine in the U.S., foreign-educated physicians must complete an intense licensing process that includes exams, boards and a three-year residency. Dr. Reddy was fortunate to have her older sister, who had already navigated the U.S. physician licensing requirements, as her mentor and guide.
“With her guidance, I was able to move quickly through the process,” Dr. Reddy reflects. “That is why I chose to be a mentor with W3 and help other women.”
Dr. Reddy completed the licensing process and currently practices internal and geriatric medicine. She also serves as medical director at Artis Senior Living in Mason.
Dr. Reddy’s mentee, Reham Gaafar, was raised in Egypt where she practiced pediatric medicine before coming to the U.S. in 2016. She wanted to continue practicing medicine, but struggled to afford the expensive exams. A friend connected her to W3 who helped her financially and paired her with Dr. Reddy for mentoring.
Describing her mentee, Dr. Reddy says, “Reham is so committed and always grateful. It is very satisfying to see her persevere and succeed, even while she juggles so many responsibilities.”
Reham responds, “I love Vijaya so much. She is so supportive and can guide me because we are in the same career. Even though she is busy, she checks in with me regularly.” Reham begins her residency in family medicine in July and declares, “I feel like I’m on top of the world!”
Both mentor and mentee agree that Women Walking West is changing women’s lives and positively impacting society. Dr. Reddy notes, “If somebody believes in you and guides you, your path gets a little easier.”
For more information about their community sponsors, mentoring, donations and fundraising gala, please visit: WomenWalkingWest.org.
Women Walking West
844.500.9378 | email@example.com