Alumni have hundreds of gleaming New College students looking upon their successes enlightened. Real-life examples of how Novos are able to grow from their academic experiences at New College allow wisdom to transmit to currently enrolled students. Luckily, due to our tight-knit community, there are chances to connect with alumni often. For example, the staff-hosted seminar and presentation in Mildred Sainer Pavilion on Nov. 9 will star author, lawyer and social justice activist Sofia Ali-Khan (‘96). The discussion will focus on Ali-Khan’s new book A Good Country: My Life in Twelve Towns and the Devastating Battle for a White America which highlights the bigotry and struggle for security that American Muslims and black and brown families face.
Ali-Khan was a previous student of the social sciences and gender studies. Her education directly translates to her professional life in the form of law and public activism. Her practices include community economic development, Medicaid access, housing, immigration and even creating a medical clinic for undocumented immigrants.
“I created an offsite clinic to get Emergency Medicaid for undocumented immigrants,” Ali-Khan said in a recent interview detailing her career developments. “They were legally entitled to federally funded medical insurance to treat acute medical emergencies, but couldn’t get it because the state had never developed a reasonable way to apply.”
Ali-Khan welcomes students to both her on-campus book signing on Nov. 8, with the location yet to be determined, and the presentation taking place at the Sainer Pavilion the following day.
“You should come, because I’d love to meet you all,” Ali-Khan said. “I’ve never been someone who goes up to a speaker after an event, or gets a book signed. But I’m learning that when people do those things, good things happen. Incredible conversations take place and real connections are made.”
Ali-Khan is making her way from her current home in Ontario, Canada in order to reconnect with the New College students and share traditions. She recalled chalk writing on Palm Court and flyers posted on all the main academic buildings on campus, and hopes to see the same school spirit apparent from the mid-90s.
Faculty on campus have also been encouraging the attendance of students. The event is hosted by Professor of Anthropology Uzi Baram, Professor of English and Gender Studies Miriam Wallace, Assistant Professor of English Jessica Young and Associate Professor of Sociology Queen Zabriskie. Young and Zabriskie will be sharing seminar presentations, and Baram along with Vickie Oldman moderating the event.
“[Ali-Khan’s book is] a really moving and powerful meditation on the long history of racism and racial discrimination in the U.S.—traced through her own lifetime and all the places she’s lived and discovered sometimes obscured histories,” Wallace said.
Uzi Baram personally brought the seminar to the attention of the Catalyst. Baram discussed the unique attributes of Ali-Khan and detailed his extensive teaching experiences which contribute to his support of the event.
“Sofia exemplifies the possibilities that come from this program: activist, lawyer, author, and more. Students will get to meet an engaging, inspiring alum. “
Sophia Ali-Khan’s book is available now on Amazon on hardcover, Kindle, and Audiobook for purchase.
Coming together to hear stories and acquire information is a key aspect of the college experience. The ability to gain knowledge about society through primary sources such as Ali-Khan’s book, A Good Country, opens up perspectives on life for oppressed individuals.