Green River College has been hosting SUSI programs every year since 2007 and there are now 191 SUSI alumni from 12 different countries. Participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan form part of the growing SUSI alumni family.
We stay in touch with our alumni through visits to their countries, email, Facebook, and reconnect events. We love to hear how our alumni are doing, what they have achieved since they left Green River, and what special follow-on projects they have been working on.
Nigora Burhonova and Uulzhan Aitnazarova
Country: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
SUSI Year: 2017
Nigora and Uulzhan are fellows of the US Central Asia Education Foundation (USCAEF) scholarship program. Shortly after returning home, their reflections on their SUSI program experiences were published in the USCAEF newsletter.
Nigora explained the details of the program and went on to say: "Overall, the SUSI Program has been one of the life-changing experiences in my life. I have expanded my world-view, both outward and inward mindsets; [became] acquainted with the American culture and people; created a network of people from all over the world; and gained a lot of new knowledge on how to be a good leader in your community, no matter what your background is. And now I am going to give back, and use the knowledge to improve my community."
Uulzhan wrote: "For me, SUSI was an amazing journey of enhancing my leadership skills and learning about American lifestyle and culture. Each and every activity we did was so interesting and impactful on our personality and perception of the world. Reading several books and class discussions made me think differently about leadership, democracy, and sustainability and changed my perception of myself as part of the universe. I was surprised by the people’s commitment to the society and their eagerness to help others during community service activities. It made me think that it is so easy to help other people and start making positive changes in your community. It was so great to talk to teachers, politicians, judges, volunteers and representatives of various organizations who impressed me with their professionalism and dedication. This made me realize how important it is to love what you do, and do what you love. I had an incredible opportunity to test myself in extreme sports like rafting and zip-lining. I learned from this experience that when you have a challenge, it is frightful only at the beginning, but then you enjoy the process and results of this experience. In conclusion, the SUSI program on Women’s Leadership made me believe in my abilities to reach all my goals and it strengthened my desire to make the world a better place."
Rukhshona (Roxy) Narzulloeva
SUSI Year: 2014
This program had a great impact on my wellbeing. I became more open minded, stronger and improved my leadership skills and public speaking. Thanks to the SUSI program, during the short time we all became so close. We became a big SUSI family. It makes my heart warm. But important thing is the leadership lessons about how to see myself and others in a way which avoids conflict – and it really helps me in my marital life :) Still keeping my heart at peace. If you remember I told you that we were planning to organize A Model United Nations conference, which was held at the National Museum of Tajikistan on July 30. The conference topic was 'No to extremism!' We tried to organize it at a high level. The Ambassador of the United States to Tajikistan, Susan Elliott, spoke at the event. It was a great experience.
SUSI Year: 2014
After SUSI, Guljahon spent two years studying in Hong Kong. Since then, she has been accepted to several universities in the US with full scholarship where she plans to continue her journey. She writes,
My two years in Hong Kong can be deduced as a transition from childhood to adulthood. I have got to learn so many things while studying and living with people from around the world. I can say that this is a place where I found my voice as a young and independent woman. There are so many things I want to discuss and share with everyone and listen to other students and the wonderful things they have done.
SUSI Year: 2014
To be honest, my life has completely changed after SUSI 2014. I have set up my life goal and am working on it very hard.
Since participating in SUSI, Akmaral has achieved many milestones, including:
- Moderated the Model U.N. Commission on the Status of Women committee in KIIT University in Bhubaneshwar India, and held sessions for 60 students on women’s empowerment issues.
- Organized leadership sessions at Miras University in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, and announced SUSI benefits and opportunities to freshmen and junior students.
- Completed an internship at U.N. Population Fund Country Office in Almaty, Kazakhstan, working with student-journalists on gender based violence and objectification of women in media topics.
- Attended an advocacy workshop in Bulgaria on reproductive health and rights of women.
- Won a scholarship to attend and moderate Rome Model U.N. Economic and Social Council, assisted Ambassador of Pakistan during the sessions in Rome, Italy in 2015.
- Completed a university degree in Social Development
- Received a fellowship from the U.N. Population Fund Eastern Europe and Central Asian office in Istanbul to study at Peer Education Training and Research Institute in Bulgaria for 4.5 months, focused on learning special methods in creating and facilitating trainings on any subject.
Basically, life has taught me many things, and gave an opportunity to meet with lifelong SUSI friends with whom I am meeting at Women Deliver Conference next week, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Overall, I have once again highlighted that (it is) not places that change people, but people are the ones who change each other.
SUSI Year: 2014
I can certainly tell that SUSI has changed my life a lot! I have dedicated myself actively to the development of student life at Nazarbayev University while I was Vice-President of Student Government, I founded a student club, Ladies in Fellowship Together, which aims to develop leadership and professional and intellectual abilities of female students taking into account Kazakhstani culture and language. We are doing interesting workshops and inviting great speakers to share their experiences with us. Also, we have subgroup within this club, which aims to develop servant leadership. We visited house for people with disabilities, and we are planning to work with the homeless.
SUSI Year: 2012
A Journey, that only got better and better with time, is one of the many ways I can describe my experience with SUSI. SUSI on Women’s leadership taught me to look at life through a perspective where it is about spreading hope, love and peace among others and to become a better person for your own self. It taught me not to have any regrets in life and take every experience that comes across as a learning step towards a progressive and peaceful lifestyle.
After her SUSI journey ended, her personal journey as a leader began to flourish. Sarah was selected to work for the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan as the Youth Director of the Pakistan U.S. Alumni Network, which gave her the opportunity to pursue her passion of empowering youth by organizing various social projects around the country. Notably, Sarah organized a national training workshop titled "Know Your Career", which brought 300 youth from around the country together with different multi-national organizations to learn about job opportunities and how to leverage leadership skills for a successful career. She also organized the "Planet Heroes" workshop in which she successfully trained 1oo+ students in pollution mitigation techniques.
Sarah has since been invited to share her story to inspire and motivate others on national and international platforms including TEDx, Youth Impact, Girl Rising, Gurutee and many others. She now lives in Maryland and has been able to connect with SUSI instructors and participants during the annual SUSI cultural fair in Washington, D.C.
I have learnt, to give every person I meet the same kind of motivation and love I have received from my SUSI family as this program on Women’s leadership has not only made me a prominent woman in my field but also a stronger person, emotionally.
SUSI Year: 2012
Since returning from her SUSI experience she has been working on achieving a goal she set for herself. She went back to Morocco with a dream of incorporating her love of nature and helping others. That dream turned into a project that she is still working on to achieve. She remembers the day when they were coming back from Seattle after a long eventful day and she was writing in her diary: "I want to backpack across my country and offer free health care for the isolated and less fortunate population." When she arrived home, she faced many difficulties and setbacks that made her think at times that it was hard to achieve her goal.
Today she is still working on that dream, and having the SUSI experience in her heart has always helped her go forward and not give up.
She has volunteered at the Red Crescent, and she has been part of many health caravans across Morocco. She is doing her best to spread health awareness. One of her favorite events was a caravan in Guelmim in the Moroccan south, where she had to interact with young girls and explain the health risks associated with female child marriage. It made the feminist doctor in her feel proud.
She has also become an inter-cultural dialogue facilitator and has facilitated dialogues between Moroccan students and U.S. students from the University of Georgia and North Eastern University and her university Cadi Aayad. She is grateful for her SUSI experience because it gave her the tools needed to be an awesome facilitator. It also led her to become a North African Ambassador for the Mandela Institute on National Development Studies (MINDS).
She is still working on her medical thesis on the immunological profile of invasive breast cancer in the region of Marrakesh, and she hopes that she can have a complete work published by the end of 2016.
SUSI Year: 2011
We received a personal visit from Zarpash in August and our International Programs recruiters asked her to be a guest lecturer at their August marketing retreat.
After she left, Zarpash sent us a moving email with details about her remarkable life and the enormous impact SUSI had and still has on her. As a BBA (Honors) student Zarpash chose Marketing as her major even though she was strongly discouraged because she was told that "women are not meant to go for marketing” in her geographical region. Even though she was the only female student in her cohort, she persisted and before the final semester results came out, she was appointed as the Marketing Service Officer by a multinational company known as Coca-Cola Beverages Limited (CCBPL). The post was specifically created for females and she was the first ever female Marketing Service Officer and the only female in the Peshawar sales center. She also worked with FAFEN (Free and Fair Election Network) in the women voters education program, worked for FISP (FATA institutional strengthening project) and today, she works as Project Manager for the IQRA sustainable development foundation which helps victims of conflict zones by conducting vocational training. She has completed her MS in Marketing and lectures in Marketing and Management at IQRA National University.
She still wants to build Skills Development Centers in FATA to encourage women to set up their own businesses to earn respectable livelihoods through self-employment. The purpose of these centers would be to empower females and to provide them with guidance in establishing their small businesses. Zarpash says the real reason behind her success today is "deviation from the conventional things." According to her, she has "always chosen the paths which have been less travelled" because she is always ready to accept challenges and has no fear of failure. "I have failed a million times but due to those failures, I have been successful a billion times."
"The reason behind my visit to Seattle, this year was that my success is not only mine but it is the success of SUSI machinery as well as my host family. Fortunately my placement with my host family was the amazing thing that happened to me. I believe the great thing this program can ever do to an exchange student is to develop a strong bond between the host family and the guest exchange student. I went back to Seattle because I owned my host family and they owned me. Secondly, Barry and Edith are the heart and the soul of this program respectively because they keep the SUSI Alumni alive, no matter where we are, they stay connected and their encouragement stays fresh as ever. You minus these two beautiful people out of this program and there would be nothing left. They are the people who gave me a clear vision and they made me believe that SUSI is the beginning!"
SUSI Year: 2010
The key takeaway for me was the drive it instilled in me to be better. To return to the US for higher education. To speak up. It's something I wrote to myself in the letter: "Never forget that you have a voice that deserves to be heard". In front of that Michelle [Marshman] had scribbled 'And your voice matters.' I went on to do more than most girls manage at my age. I've organized TEDx events that have gotten international coverage. I became the Executive Director of a grassroots nonprofit to help unprivileged students get into universities abroad. It's called Possibilities Pakistan. I applied to the Fulbright program and got into UPenn where I completed an M.S in Non-Profit Leadership changing my field so I could find a way to give back…to become that social change agent you inspired us to be. I graduated as the commencement speaker of my program. Currently, I am back in Pakistan working in the development sector. I am part of the arrangement team that has created a phone based job portal to help people look for blue collar jobs since so many can't read or write. It's called Hello Rozgar.You take a girl from Pakistan who thinks she never has a chance of doing much and equip her with skills and more importantly the belief that she is worth something. There's no price-tag on that.
SUSI Year: 2009
Rabia returned home from her SUSI 2009 experience to a country in political turmoil. She wanted to do something to teach youth about their importance and how they could contribute to the welfare of society so she applied to attend a week-long training course on ‘Conflict Transformation & Peace building’ conducted by Paiman Alumni Trust’ in Islamabad. Following her training, Rabia conducted multiple presentations for youth of all ages, focusing on their importance and potential as change agents.
Inspired by her servant leadership involvement in the US, Rabia still wanted to do more for her community. So she worked with her peers at the Institute of Management Sciences in Peshawar to launch an NGO called Peshawar Youth Organization (PYO). An entirely student-run organization, PYO promotes awareness, wakefulness and action of students and young professionals so they can play a vibrant and energetic role in the betterment and uplift of the society.
In 2010, Rabia and the PYO executive council organized a three day summit called Provincial Youth Summit. This unique summit introduced 350 of the sharpest and brightest young minds from approximately 50 universities to a diverse range of skills including leadership, team work, social networking, and active participation. The overall objective of the summit was to inspire youth to redefine and refine their roles in relation to the national, social and economic well-being of society and ultimately realize their potential to spark progressive change in the country.
In honor of her continued commitment to youth empowerment and community development, Rabia was awarded the prestigious National Youth Award for Community Service in NEED DATE/YEAR. The awards are conferred via a highly competitive selection process by the Government of Pakistan to high-achieving and distinguished men and women across the country and are accompanied by a monetary award.
We are so proud of Rabia’s accomplishments and look forward to watching her leadership journey progress.
SUSI Year: 2008
During the years of our global leadership theme, SUSI 2007-2009, Green River was fortunate to have both male and female participants. Miguel's post-SUSI contribution as an internationally-regarded social activist is significant not only for his own country, but also for his supporters including the U.S. Department of State and his friends and mentors at Green River College.
According to Miguel, the carefully-designed SUSI curriculum was extremely impactful because it provided a detailed insight into Leadership for Social Change, American history and culture, as well as, US Foreign Policy vis-a-vis South Asia -- and most importantly American-style Community Service.
"The unique experience of being grouped along with youth leaders from Pakistan and Bangladesh rendered the opportunity of being exposed to alternative narratives of people from countries that share an acrimonious yet a common history", he added.
For Miguel the SUSI program was a crucial turning point in his life. His journey as a change-maker began with his exposure to American social work, through this program. His visit to the Kent Seniors Center, to the St. Leo’s Food Bank and to Goodwill in Tacoma, encouraged him to take up social work practice.
Following his SUSI experience, Miguel founded an Assam-based charitable organization -- UTSAH -- which works for the inclusive betterment of society by encouraging youth to participate actively in the process of development. As a leading organization in Child Rights protection, UTSAH has been a part of numerous consultative processes regionally and nationally.
UTSAH’s mission is to create spaces that ensure survival and protection, and foster the development of children who are in need of care and protection.
The organization’s most noticeable work has been at an informal settlement in Eastern Guwahati. Here, UTSAH intervened through an innovative community-based Child Protection Model to address protection-related issues of children living in vulnerable areas. This settlement has 121 children.
Miguel and his team are also working in Western Guwahati with around 300 children, all living in conditions of poverty and other forms of deprivation. Other interventions include:
- Rescuing 101 child laborers from 2011-2013
- Mainstreaming 120 children into Government Schools
- Training more than 200 community children in child rights from 2011-2013
- Training more than 150 community women in child rights from 2011-2013
- Helping to facilitate water supply to the 75 households in these communities
- Training more than 150 community women in women’s rights from 2011-2013
- Rescuing all children from substance addiction in these communities
- Stopping recurrent eviction drives through activism
- Training more than 200 police personnel on Juvenile Justice
In 2013, Miguel was recognized as an emerging Youth Leader of the Asia-Pacific & the Americas by the East West Center, Hawaii, through the “New generation Seminar”, for his prominent work in Child Protection.
Later that year, he was selected as a Youth Representative to the Commonwealth Asia Youth Leaders Summit in New Delhi. Youth leaders from 13 countries participated in the Asia Youth Leaders Summit to discuss about meaningful engagement of youth in democracy, governance and development processes.
Currently, he is the youngest member of the Child Labor Task Force Committee of the Government of Assam. Their mandate is to consider the recommendations of the Working Group of National Advisory Council on Social Protection on Abolition of Child Labor.
Miguel dreams of building a state-of-the-art child protection and development center in Assam—and the Government of Assam has already allotted land to UTSAH, for this purpose.
SUSI Year: 2008
Rashee, a graduate in English Literature from the University of Delhi, was a member of the 2008 SUSI Program at Green River College. After completing the program she has gone on to work in the area of social development in India on the themes of gender, education and urbanization and her work has been largely focused in Urban Slum Communities in the states of Delhi and Bihar. Rashee is the co-founder of two NGOs: the Diksha Foundation and another called SafetiPin which is an advocacy group focused on women’s rights and safety.
She has also worked with Green River College in bringing SUSI alumni from the South Asian region together on three separate occasions in New Delhi, most notably for the 2012 Unconference on Identity and Peacebuilding, which was attended by the SUSI team from Green River and by the SUSI Branch Chief at US Department of State. What Rashee has been able to achieve during the past almost eight years is absolutely outstanding and shows her commitment to deeply held values in gender and diversity – as well as a clear understanding of the role of non-government entities in the process of social change.
SUSI Year: 2007
Afreen Hossain is an outstanding example of what our Green River SUSI alumni are able to do with what we give them. She has coped with raising her younger brother, while finishing university studies and excelling in her chosen field of Quality Assurance/Software Engineering, a career not normally popular with young women in her country.
Afreen has mentioned that the SUSI experience not only helped her become a leader in her community, but also inspired her to see the world more broadly and provided the confidence needed to migrate to Australia where both she and her husband both have well-paid and fulfilling careers in the creation and design of electronic games, with one of the world’s leading companies.
In addition to her various responsibilities, Afreen has initiated a post-SUSI project named 'Code it Girl' to encourage more young women to explore the possibility of a career in telecommunications engineering and cognate fields. Check out her Facebook page and group.
Afreen has become as a person of influence, not only in her adopted country, but particularly in what she is achieving with the many young women and girls she is empowering with 'Code it, Girl, back in Bangladesh. To ensure the impact and continuity of this project, she makes annual visits to her home country to inspire and promote.
Natasha Israt Kabir
SUSI Year: 2007
“Visiting the USA on a 'US Study Initiative' supported by the US Department of State in 2007 was a life-changing experience for me as the idea of community service I found there moved me. After returning to Bangladesh, I was looking for opportunities to make an impact on the lives of these challenged people and came up with a plan to empower them with IT (Information Technology) skills. The year 2013 was the time when I initiated ‘Project IT for Differently Able’ with a grant from the US Department of State and turned my dream into reality. The project aims to pass on technological education and skills to people with disabilities. I believe technology will give them a voice, help them connect with the world and become independent.
Falguny is one of the physically challenged participants from the southern part of Bangladesh, who has developed fast computer operating skills without having her two wrists. She was dreaming to be in a university and finally she made it. Ryad, a student suffering from deafness attaints all objectives when given a task and is very responsive. Saydeur’s and Ratul’s determination has never made them late for classes though they travel a long distance to reach class every single day. Rajon is another great example of courage who attends classes with the support of his crutches. These people are the source of my strength and inspiration now. I strongly believe – ‘If you have the idea and vision to change the world, yes! You can.’”
Since she shared these comments with us in 2015, Natasha has been selected to represent her country at 2-3 international events.
Towfique Ahmad Khan
SUSI Year: 2007
Since completing the Global Leadership SUSI at Green River College in 2007, Mr. Towfique Ahmad Khan has become an accomplished youth leader, global connector, development activist and social entrepreneur. In 2008, he became Founder & President of South Asian Youth Society (SAYS), a nonprofit civil society organization now recognized as one of the leading regional young change makers’ platforms for human development, regional cooperation and socio-economic development activities in South Asia. Currently SAYS has 650+ registered members and more than 4,500 volunteers who are transforming their communities through public service across South Asia. SAYS connects, inspires, develops and empowers young leaders in order to actively engage in building a just, peaceful and prosperous South Asia.
Over the past decade, Mr. Khan has focused on including youth voices in decision making, building youth-led enterprises with the goal of ensuring youth empowerment to build peace and prosperity in South Asia. In 2010, compelled by a sense of civic duty and incorporating the knowledge and experience from his international exchange experiences, Towfique launched ‘Knowledge for Change’ to promote pluralism and responsible democratic governance while enhancing leadership skills, English language skills, socio-cultural awareness, and educational opportunities for underprivileged and marginalized students. As a result of the project, most of the participants (youth of Madrasah Religious Education institutes) were admitted to top tertiary academic institutes and completed their graduation.
Over the years, Mr. Khan has led and developed numerous initiatives to advance youth empowerment and sustainable global development, including:
- 2011: Led the U.S. Department of State project: ‘‘Uniting Youth Leaders of Today and Tomorrow to Build Better South Asia.
- 2012: Convened South Asian Youth Leaders’ Summit: “Building Prosperity’’ by empowering young minds across South Asia.
- 2015: Supervised the Model South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit. The summit, subsequently labeled the ‘Dhaka Dialogue Declaration, convened 28 prominent International Exchange Alumni from seven South Asian countries to provide a platform for future leaders and policy makers to network and learn about diplomacy and regional affairs.
- 2016: Designed and led ‘Girls for Global Goals’ and ‘Sustainable Development Olympiad (SDO)’ initiatives to empower young girls by disseminating the essential knowledge about global goals and connecting them to the process of championing Sustainable Developing Goals (SDG).
A testament to his exemplary leadership and extraordinary commitment to the South Asia community, Towfique has received many honors and awards, including:
- 2011: Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF)
- 2013: ‘Young Connectors of the Future 2013’ Fellow of Swedish Institute;
- Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, London
- 2017: Finalist of the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work from the Asia region;
- Global Alumni Member of the Month (February 2017) of U.S. Department of State.
He has also been featured in numerous national, regional and international media as an emerging global connector for transforming lives in building better societies.
As a visionary young global leader, Towfique continues to lead initiatives to empower the young generation and counter violent extremism in South Asia by leveraging the strengths of peaceful civic practices to promote tolerance and inclusion.
Mr. Khan holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from North South University, Bangladesh and earned a regional Master in Public Policy and Governance (MPPG) from the joint program of University of Bergen, Norway, University of Peradenia, Sri Lanka, Tribhuban University, Nepal and North South University, Bangladesh.
The Study of the United States Institute (SUSI) on Women's Leadership is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). ECA’s mission is "to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly and peaceful relations.
SUSI Program Director
Dr. Vivette Beuster
+1 (253) 288-3343 (office phone at college)
+1 (253) 326-1989 (cell phone)
Institute participants may receive mail at the following address:
c/o International Programs and Extended Learning
Green River College
12401 SE 320th Street
Auburn, WA 98092 USA