Sisterhood: The Best Gift I Ever Received

by Cassandra Tejeda


As soon as I saw Melanie Elturk CEO of Haute Hijab with her husband walking in front of her on one side and the school’s Assistant Director of Student Involvement on the other, as though they were her giant bodyguards, I began to sweat and adrenaline hit me within a nanosecond.

I told myself she’s just another human being like me. In that moment, the only way I felt I could release my excitement was to repeat “I’m dying” over and over again but my insides were repeating “I can’t believe this is real, I can’t believe this is real.”

When that failed to calm me down, I walked over to a chair and sat down and tried to act cool with watery eyes and a flushed face. But then Melanie noticed me and knew my name before I even spoke a word and I was mortified.

She spoke with humility and dictation but also gentleness, I may be over-romanticizing this moment but it is how I will forever remember it.

When all was done she came and spoke to me and I cried like a baby. I was too overjoyed and too filled with emotions. What she offered me was more than I ever expected.

As I regained my calmness after 10 minutes of crying and talking I asked her how she manages a work and religious balance. She responded with wise words.

She explained that a part of Muslim faith is doing good work in this world.

Work and religion should not be separate things but doing good work is a part of your religious lifestyle.

I realized I hadn’t figured that out yet. I also realized I shouldn’t be trying to figure things out all alone and I really need help.

In those moments, Melanie truly became the older sister I never had. She came at a timely moment in my life.

I have been coming to terms with the possibility that I may never get that community and sisterhood that I always wanted but never spent time thinking about.

I felt lucky to be self-motivated when it came to Islam. I believed this was a reality for me because I had strong faith and didn’t need community. I focused on the family and friends I had.

After Melanie was long gone, I found myself praying in my friend’s office. This friend of mine wore the hijab the entire week as an experiment and absolutely loved it. As I was praying she came over, pulled up a chair, held my hand and prayed with me.

All I felt compelled to do was to hold her hand tight, be in that moment and I dedicated every prayer I could possibly think of to her. We stayed that way for a couple of minutes and hugged it out after.

I truly had such beautiful day and I credit it all to God, the most giving and best of planners for this beautiful day but also the beautiful souls I was surrounded by.

I got to experience a feeling I never experienced before. I got to experience sisterhood and it was the best feeling I’d ever felt before.

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