ATU Student Leads from Across the Globe

Susan Sonia came to the United States in 2018 from Bangladesh, but before making her arrival, she found a way for women to take pride in them by creating mentoring groups.  

Sonia is 38 with one biological son, 12. She has recently remarried and gained a stepdaughter, 13, and a stepson, 14. She and her husband knew each other in their childhood and reconnected through Facebook. 

Sonia said, “choosing the right partner is very important.” 

Before coming to America, Susan worked at the Bangladesh Walmart headquarters for four and a half years as a sourcing specialist. She is currently a graduate assistant for emergency management and homeland security.  In addition to her studies, she does some work for the International Services Department at ATU. 

In her free time, Sonia enjoys cooking traditional Bangladesh meals for her family and sells them pre-cooked to locals on Facebook.  

In November of 2018, Sonia started her first women’s empowerment group. She got the idea to start the group due to some complications in her previous marriage. These groups are meant for women between the ages of 35-40 who are shy and want to learn from each other’s experience, grow as a person and enjoy each other’s company. 

 “My main target group are women who are in abusive relationships, have social anxiety or have dealt with being stalked, which is a common problem in Bangladesh,” said Sonia.

This first group has 2,000 members and continues to grow. 

In the groups, women can be themselves with their friends while learning to be themselves on their own. The women spend time sharing stories, giving comfort, exchanging advice and inspiring one another. 

While Sonia is away from Bangladesh, she stays connected with her groups through a shared female empowerment group on Facebook. In the online group, they post videos and pictures to keep each other updated on their lives and share positivity. 

 “We are teaching these women to become leaders so we can continue to grow and create more groups,” Sonia explains.  

This past International Women’s Day, the group hosted a party for all the women with dancing, decorations, desserts and guest inspirational speakers to talk to them. The speakers talked about ways to start their own small business, ways to escape abuse or how to handle it, how to receive an education and many other things to help these women grow in their life. 

For some of the women, this was their first time to ever dance and enjoy a party with other women. Many of the women now have small businesses selling clothing, food, cosmetic services, art and all kinds of other things. Sonia and her groups are teaching women that it is okay not to depend on a man. 

 “I have had husbands call me and tell me they are happy to see their wives smile more and be excited to go to the groups,” she said.

The plan is to keep expanding as much as possible. 

“For future plans, we have purchased some land and plan on building a safe home for women to come and stay when they need to.”

If a woman was recently divorced or is trying to escape any type of abuse, this will give them a place to stay, be safe and have the comfort of other women who are experiencing similar issues. It is great to have such inspiring women in this world like Susan to remind us that is okay to be an independent woman and to always find joy in our life no matter the circumstances. Her accomplishments could potentially change the world and the outlook of women’s future.

*In the printed version of this story, the article incorrectly stated as Sonia receiving her undergraduate degree in English from ATU. The Arka Tech regrets the error. 

Sydney Hayes

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