Oakland University former student is a journalist on paper, storyteller at heart

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Oakland University former student is a journalist on paper, storyteller at heart

courtesy of Irum Ibrahim

courtesy of Irum Ibrahim

courtesy of Irum Ibrahim

Falin Hakeem, Staff Reporter

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It is a somber evening outside of a Starbucks Coffee. The young woman adjusts the sleeves of her gray knit cardigan before taking a careful sip out of her coffee. Politely smiling as she sets her cup down on the small wooden table, “it’s spelled I-b-r-a-h-i-m,” she said.

Irum Ibrahim, a 23-year-old journalist from Rochester, Michigan is a contributor for the well-known online web publication the Huffington Post.

Ibrahim is also a communications specialist for nonprofit organization ACCESS in Dearborn.

She studied journalism at Oakland University for a year and a half, working for numerous newspapers, one of them being the Oakland Post. Ibrahim then transferred to Michigan State University, where she went on to write for the State News and the college’s official yearbook, the Red Cedar Log.

Ibrahim said her friends and colleagues pushed her to write while others swayed her in the opposite direction.

“Her work is very powerful, the way she uses her words,” said OU alumna Mashal Khan, a longtime friend of Ibrahim’s. “Someone who inspires you to do something you normally wouldn’t think about doing is the definition of an influence.”

Convinced that she would not find a stable job in the world of journalism, Ibrahim changed her major to business for a brief period of time before going back to journalism.

“It felt so unnatural to me, business,” she said. “It was so… narrow, you know? I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want to be miserable for four years of undergrad, and for the rest of my life.”

However, she said she can not blame people for going after jobs for security and financial purposes.

“I learned quickly that it’s about you… what you want,” Ibrahim said. “You can always make the best of what you have.”

What she loves most about writing is the concept of taking something simple and creating something meaningful out of it.

“I’ve done a lot of profile pieces myself, (such as) the Huffington Post articles I’ve written, (and) to any outsider these are just rappers, clothing designers or street artists and that’s it,” she said. “There is so much more to them, and you’d never know. How would you?  All It takes to get to know your source better is a question as simple as ‘What inspires you the most?’”

“She inspires me to see good in everything,” Khan said. “Irum always tries to see the good in people.”

Ibrahim said that even though she switched back to journalism, she was still faced with obstacles. When Ibrahim was in undergrad, she was more afraid to take the next step, like moving out of state. She said a lot of what we tell ourselves is psychological.

“I know girls who are just like me, who share my passions and beliefs, but have hesitated to go after them because they’re a girl, or because they wear a hijab,” she said.

Ibrahim says that becoming a journalist has helped coax the shyness out of her.

“You’re forced to ask questions, to be curious,” she said. “If you’re like that in every aspect of life, there is no denying your success.”

As for the future, her life goal is to pursue a career in human rights.

“I would love to be an international reporter someday… hopefully!”