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Salma Salim is Using Education as a Tool for Freedom

Educational equity and academic achievement are some of CHLDC’s foundational pillars. Former participant and coach in the College STEPS program, group leader at the BEACON after school program, and Student Engagement Specialist at the Brooklyn Lab school, Salma Salim exemplifies CHLDC’s commitment to educational success. Salma first learned about CHLDC’s College STEPS and Persistence program during her time as a student at Transit Tech High School. As a first generation child of Bangladeshi immigrant parents and the first woman in her family to attend college, Salma describes how the STEPS program provided her with the knowledge and resources to successfully navigate an otherwise difficult college process. With help from the College STEPS staff and the CUNY SEEK program, Salma first gained admittance into Brooklyn College from where she eventually transferred to Hunter College School of Social Work.

Throughout her time at Hunter College, Salma worked as a Group Leader for PS 214’s BEACON afterschool program and coach within the College STEPS office. As her first professional role, Salma’s position as a group leader helped propel her further into more professional and leadership-oriented positions. Salma’s real professional breakthrough occurred throughout her time working as a College STEPS coach. “If I could stay there forever, I would”, Salma stated while reminiscing of her time at STEPS. Salma’s love and appreciation for the STEPS community is multifaceted; to her, the STEPS program does not just instill higher educational achievement. STEPS “awoke this leadership skill that I had suppressed”, states Salma. Through STEPS’s welcoming and collaborative environment, its commitment to supervision and guidance, and its encouragement for challenge, Salma became equipped with skills to help her succeed both inside and outside of college. As a college student during her time at STEPS, Salma provided participants with a unique perspective. The relationship between her and her advisees was mutually beneficial.

Salma most recently worked as a Student Engagement Specialist at the Franklin K. Lane Campus Community Schools. Under this position, Salma worked to increase and promote student attendance and engagement through interactive and fun activities. Salma speaks very highly of the Lane Campus community schools, stating how the schools “create a welcoming environment for students to make sure they are seen and celebrated”. Community schools remain dedicated to the wellbeing of their students, aiming to aid their students through a holistic approach that attends to their mental, physical, and emotional needs.

Salma will soon begin her new role as a Senior Job Developer within CHLDC’s Career and Education Department. Long term, Salma plans to obtain her masters in social work from Hunter College next year, and then work towards obtaining clinical licensing and possibly a PhD. Salma hopes to utilize her social work degree to increase educational access among young South Asian and Muslim women both domestically and internationally. According to Salma, “education is the key to freedom”, and she hopes to increase that freedom within underrepresented and underserved populations. We applaud Salma’s work and dedication to educational equity, and we thank her for her commitment to CHLDC.


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