In the home she shares with her mother, father, and six siblings, Baghdad Numi is known as the “engineer of the house.” Baghdad is a voracious learner and likes to fix things. She’s interested in pursuing a career in medicine or engineering. “I want to help find solutions to any problems in medicine and engineering that the world or people are facing,” she writes.
Over her high school career — and before that as a young girl in Yemen — Baghdad has sought opportunities to help advance her in these fields. She participated in the Science of Success Program at her high school, Science and Technology Entry Program at Iona College, and the Manhattan College Engineering Program. On the weekends, she interns at Montefiore Hospital.
With such a clear focus, we can only imagine Baghdad’s surprise when she first heard of her Her Honor Mentoring placement: Volunteer New York! “As a girl who’s interested in STEM fields,” Baghdad wrote, “I never expected to be in a volunteering place.”
Volunteer New York!, a nonprofit based in Westchester and serving the surrounding counties, seeks “to inspire, mobilize, and equip individuals and groups to take positive action to address pressing challenges, support nonprofits and strengthen the quality of life in our community.” Under the guidance of Executive Director and Her Honor Mentor Alisa H. Kesten, Volunteer New York! has inspired more than 23,000 volunteers to contribute over 301,000 hours of service-work — last year alone.
A longtime Westchester resident, Alisa has gained a name for herself as a community catalyst and volunteer cheerleader. Her work is empathetic, rooted in relationships. Alisa has a deep appreciation for building legacy and sharing our gifts with our communities. In an interview with LoHud, Alisa shared, “I know people who have mattered to me, people who helped me get to where I am today, and those were people who gave of their time and so paying it forward, leaving a legacy — those are important things to me.”
As the picture of these two women, Baghdad and Alisa, becomes clearer, so to do the connections between them. While the lens may be slightly different, each of these women share a deep-seated commitment to relationships and to changing the world through harnessing our individual talents and passions.
While it may have seemed offbase to Baghdad, the team at Her Honor saw in her application a strong commitment to the principles central to Volunteer New York!: civic engagement, a commitment to giving back, and desire to support our neighbors locally and globally. In addition to her many STEM activities, Baghdad has volunteered to create awareness campaigns about bullying and supported a blood drive. In her spare time, she tutors students struggling academically.
As Alisa said, “The most lasting impact of this program probably has far less to do with the business or academic synergy between mentor and mentee and much more about the personal relationship that is formed. There is much to be gained and shared on both sides of the equation. Embrace the experience with a positive attitude.”
Now, more than halfway through her HHM experience, Baghdad also sees the connections, “All I knew was that I want to create a positive change — even if a little one. Being in Volunteer NY! has opened many doors for me to discover other things and places… Meeting new people can drive you to unexpected places.”
Over the next few months, Baghdad is working with Volunteer New York! in planning a specific volunteer opportunity to bring back to Mount Vernon High School as a project leader. She plans to be the first person in her family to attend college.
Baghdad’s advice for future Her Honor mentees,“Do not worry where or who you start with, you will end up loving it more than what you have expected to get… This could be the best experience you will ever have and the best people you will ever meet, just like it was for me.”
In Their Own Words
Three words you would use to describe yourself?
Baghdad: Diligent, Thinker, Ambitious
Alisa: Joyful, Empathetic, Appreciative