Creating Communities: Women’s History Month Celebration

Author: Omar Dedovic

Last Updated:

Category: Featured

Though early in her career, Iqra Sheikh (’20, ’22) strives every day to better the lives of the faculty, staff and students of UTC through her equity and inclusion work. Not only is Iqra a standout alumna to feature for Women’s History Month as she’s trailblazing a path that so many at UTC will follow but also a shining example for this year’s International Women’s Day theme – #EmbraceEquity.

Iqra, who graduated with an exercise science degree in 2020, finished her Master of Public Health from UTC in 2022. While an undergraduate student, Iqra served in the Student Government Association, International Student Orientation, Muslim Student Association and as Wellness Chair for the Coalition Advocating for Student Empowerment through the Center for Women and Gender Equity, where she was an assistant during her graduate program serving on the executive board for the Public Health Student Association.

While an undergraduate student at UTC, she quickly became involved, helping to build communities and a culture of belonging. “Some of my favorite memories include SGA because that was one of the first things I got involved in during college,” Iqra recalls. “It really helped me get out of my shell and gather the courage to get involved in other things.”

As a coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Iqra spends a significant amount of time working with the GUIDE mentorship program, a first-year mentorship program that helps first-year students, specifically from minority backgrounds, to get adjusted to college through the guidance of a mentor. “My experiences growing up in Chattanooga as a first-generation Pakistani Muslim woman inspired me to work in Equal Opportunity and Accessibility” says Iqra. “Finding your people and building community is hard when you’re the odd one out in major spaces.” Through the resources offered by Multicultural Affairs, she has been implementing and executing DEI initiatives and programs across campus. Not only is Iqra a standout alumna to feature for Women’s History Month as she’s trailblazing a path that so many UTC students will benefit from but also a shining example of how embracing diversity benefits students, faculty, staff and campus.

Being a catalyst of empowerment, Iqra works to create spaces and communities on campus where students from all backgrounds can feel represented, fostering environments that cultivate growth. “My advice to other women is to be kind to themselves. You will make mistakes, and you will be confused at times,” she says. “Life isn’t always going to be easy, especially when we, as women, often have so much working against us. So be your own biggest supporter and cheer yourself on!”