Last Friday, Professor Joe Thompson gave me incredible advice.

He’s my U.S. History professor. I was in his office going over a few quizzes before the final this Wednesday.

Thompson is a funny guy, he likes to crack jokes, and all around is a great person. I love, love his class because he teaches in a way that makes you feel like you’re learning about life and people, not events and dates.

Now of course, with all the political drama surrounding the election, Thompson always has a thing or two to say about the Republican front-runners. As an American-Muslim, Donald Trump’s poll percentages scare the bejeezus out of me. I honestly don’t understand how people, not only like this guy, but want him to run this country?! It really boggles my mind.

After I was finished going over the quizzes and stood up to leave, Thompson remarked that I was a great student and very bright. I responded saying: “It’s funny you always say that, but I mean, I have to be. Who’s gonna wanna hire this?” I asked, gesturing to my headscarf (hijab) tied around my head.

Thompson’s response surprised me. He sat me down again, looked me in the eye, and told me I was beautiful. He told me to have faith, to have hope, and not to worry. He told me to wear my hijab with pride and not to listen to the loud ones with the microphones who want to tear me down. He told me he’d hire me in a heartbeat.

The best part is I believed him. I decided I won’t settle, I won’t back down, I will have faith, and I will be optimistic. My success will combat Donald Trump and the likes of him.

For some reason I needed this push. I wasn’t necessarily down about the racist rhetoric towards Muslims happening in the media, but by the end of the week, it all just crashed and my brain couldn’t take it.

Two hours later, I was home checking my email, and I sat stunned. Thompson sent me an email with the subject “Smile” and he reiterated his advice to me: “Your future is so much brighter than those who denigrate your faith. My advice to you is hold your head high, express your faith with pride, and live well. And smile -JT”

I read the email over and over and over shocked really that someone cares. I realized that Thompson’s advice wasn’t profoundly amazing: I had heard Muslim speakers say more or less the same thing, but the fact that Thompson isn’t Muslim and still cares made a difference with me. You could say his advice trumped them all (see what I did there 😉).

Hang in there everyone.


Verily, with every hardship comes ease! [Quran 94:6]


5 thoughts on “Smile

  1. I thought college kids were open minded to all views. Try to have a discussion and it’s racist. Joe knows that we have prevented the French (late 1700),then the British, then Italians, Germans and Japanese all temporarily from coming here in the past. Jimmy Carter had Iranians rounded up and deported by the thousands. This is not new, it is exactly who we are. During times of war we try not to let folks in who want to kill
    us. Tell Joe I said Hi!!!


    • I’m sorry that you have this unfortunate opinion, David. The British, French, Italians, Germans, Japanese, and Iranians didn’t want to kill Americans that’s absurd. Claiming that an entire race or religion want to kill us is ridiculous. Not letting those peoples into our country was a mistake, one we hope not to repeat. Please don’t speak in America’s name, in my name, that being unwelcome is who we are. This video might help clarify:


  2. Mariam – Your post does a terrific job of giving me and other readers deeper insight into two wonderful people, Prof. Thompson and you, and by extension, into world events and other people. You did all this in a concise, digestible length piece, which is a substantial writing talent. Congratulations and thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mariam- Thanks for sharing your experience. Joe is a wonderful human being, and this experience embodies the intention of most of my colleagues at Montgomery College. Your decision to believe in what Joe shared is the magic that all of us hope to ignite in students and one another.

    I share your fears about the Republican nominees, particularly Trump. In this, you are very much not alone, so tell everyone you know to get out and vote!

    Liked by 1 person

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