Issues of the past motivates speaker

Orator steps out of comfort zone during speech tournament

By Andrew Weedon, Advocate Staff

A strong voice from humble beginnings can provide a powerful example to anyone who comes from a position of disadvantage.

Kulsoom Mohsin has made quite an impression this semester in her time on the speech and debate team.

Her incredible public speaking ability was a surprise to almost everybody, including herself.

“Public speaking is really out of my comfort zone,” Mohsin said.

While she now has the skill and confidence to speak publicly, Mohsin  lived a fairly quiet childhood. Born in Vallejo to parents who came from Lahore, Pakistan, from an early age, Mohsin felt like a typical teenage girl who was interested in average teenage things like art and books.

While she struggled through school with many of the issues that are all far too familiar, it was her family that inspired her to take the path she is on now.

The biology major said she hated that subject in school but had a change of heart after talking to her sister about physics.

“My sister showed me just how amazing science is and after that I was hooked,” Mohsin said.

This interest in science has helped move her toward a future career in the medical field.

Mohsin said that her new found ability for public speaking will prove helpful in her chosen career as she will have to talk with people everyday. The medical field is not the only place Mohsin said her speaking ability could be important.

At an annual peace walk held by the local Muslim community in Richmond, Mohsin gives speeches about peace and acceptance — and has been doing this for a few years.

Mohsin is alarmed by the stereotypes of Muslim people that many of her family and peers experience throughout their daily lives.

“The bad comments are always hurtful, but I feel that they are simply out of ignorance,” Mohsin said.

Because of this she wants to prove to others that being Muslim is not a restriction.

Being easily identifiable, she feels that it is important for her to help fight against discrimination whenever she can.

“Fighting this ignorance is just helping me learn more about myself and my culture,” Mohsin said.

When she was growing up, Mohsin said she never expected to be this successful.

“I only thought I was average. I never thought I could do great things,” Mohsin said

Mohsin’s inseparable best friend, Dema Aldabbas, said Mohsin is very humble about her achievements and likes to include everyone if she can.

After winning first place at a speech tournament, it was Mohsin who was eager to point out the achievements of her fellow teammates while minimizing her own.

“Mohsin is very persistent and never lets anything stop her,even if she is afraid,” Aldabbas said.

Randy Carver, who is her speech team coach and former teacher, had nothing but praise for the young woman and her achievements.

“She is one of those students you don’t want to leave (the college) but you know they have to in order to do other great things,” Carver said.

Carver has helped Mohsin reach first place in the informative speaking category at two different tournaments this fall.

“Just like most other students, (Mohsin) says she has butterflies before a speech. But I think she makes them fly in formation,” Carver said.

Fellow speech team member Raquel Navas said Mohsin is a really hard worker and has done an amazing job on the speech team.

Behind this outspoken and confident personality, Mohsin is a deeply caring and empathetic person.

Aldabbas told a story of feeling sick on the way back from the Santa Rosa Junior College speech tournament earlier this semester. At a moment’s notice, Mohsin was at her side willing to help in any way she could.

Mohsin said that for much of her life, she has been very good with conversation and willing to listen to anyone who wanted to talk.

“People had a lot of trust in me, so I was kind of my friends’ therapist,” Mohsin said.

The combination of being a great speaker and listener will be helpful qualities for her dream of someday building a children’s shelter in an area of Pakistan known for rampant child abuse.