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How Noreen Mohamed shines through service

By Daneen Khan

When Noreen Mohamed walked through Davis Drive Elementary School, she was overcome with emotions.

Mohamed wasn’t returning to her old school for the sake of nostalgia. She was delivering the results of an 11-month long project, one that stands as a testament to her perseverance, passion and dedication to helping others – handmade sensory boards for special education classes.

“I knew, growing up, that I wanted to go back… and obviously the same kids weren’t there anymore, but just being able to be in that classroom, giving them resources that I knew would be able to help in some way, that was really special to me,” she said.

When Mohamed was in fifth grade, she volunteered in her school’s special education classrooms. She was also an eager member of her local Girl Scout troop.

The Girl Scouts fostered her love for activism and business. So when it came time to earn the extremely prestigious Gold Award, Mohamed knew exactly how to help her community. She decided to return to the special education classes. But this time, she’d also be providing handmade sensory boards for the next generation of students.

Mohamed spent nearly a year executing her plan. She met with the Girl Scout board to present the idea for approval. After her sensory boards were approved, she was assigned a liaison to overlook every step. “It was definitely tedious, but was worth it in the end,” she said. “Everything looks very professional… and it teaches you how to work with other people.”

To Mohamed, teamwork was one of the best lessons she learned through the Scouts. “The Girl Scouts were one of the best organizations I’ve ever joined,” she said.

Once Mohamed submitted her final report, she was golden. Her handmade sensory boards are still being used in Davis Drive and likely will for years to come.

Mohamed’s sensory boards are just one of the many ways she serves others. Her desire to help underprivileged communities comes from her family; she volunteered in mosques with her mother and shared a love for journalism and politics with her older sister. She even gained business experience by helping her father market his car dealership on social media. But even as the love of her family propels her, Mohamed finds her own Mohamed and a teacher show off the sensory boardspassions to focus on.

As an Egyptian Muslim woman, Mohamed has seen a lack of representation firsthand. When she joined the Youth Legislative Assembly, she described the experience as an “all-eyes-on-me situation” due to the predominantly white makeup of the organization.

Mohamed grew up eager for discussion and strongly values her heritage, so activism has always been of interest to her. She volunteers with Key Club but also works with Speech and Debate, Muslim Student Association and, of course, the Girl Scouts. Above all, she dedicates herself to showing that everyone has a voice that they can use to help others.

In the long run, Mohamed wants to channel her passion into her own business. Her experiences in school and with the Girl Scouts sparked a desire to help children, especially those lacking resources or opportunities. “In North Carolina, you don’t have to go far to find an underprivileged community,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we find those communities so that the kids in those areas have similar opportunities to those that live in more privileged areas.”

Mohamed addresses audience at her Gold Award ceremony