‘A Beautiful Challenge’
Norbaya Jameela Durr has seen growth in a time of change.
As a special way to mark our sesquicentennial celebration, we asked some of our students, faculty, staff and alumni to share their fondest Elmhurst memories, favorite campus stories and hopes for the future of the University. Read along as we roll out the entire series over the coming months.
Student. Double major and minor. Small-business owner. Mentor. Mother. To Norbaya Jameela Durr ’22 of Chicago, it’s all necessary work for personal and professional development.
“I have goals I want to achieve. I had to switch my attitude a few years ago to focus on attaining these goals,” says Durr, who’s pursuing degrees in biology, English and chemistry. She also leads bibliotherapy workshops with C. Art Press (and hopes to bring them to the Elmhurst University campus); is a PUMA-STEM peer mentor; has recently joined the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Alumni group and is seeking to join the Mentorship Committee; and serves on the Board of Directors at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, working to change and inspire communities through organizing, art, and health and wellness.
What drew you to Elmhurst University?
I was a medical technologist working in Elmhurst. While there, I had an urge to go back to school. A friend I worked with was a former student at Elmhurst College. She suggested I check it out, and then I thought—as I was trying to figure out the logistics to accomplish this new goal—“I could just work full-time, then after work go to school and everything would be fine.” As my challenging journey unfolded, it has been my closest relationships with mentors and leadership at Elmhurst University that binds me to it.
How do you feel being at Elmhurst University at this moment as we mark 150 years?
At Elmhurst University there’s a willingness to understand and engage in the easier conversations, but also the difficult ones that intersect with the broader issues in American society. Is it easy to have those conversations and make those policy changes or help or promote a cultural shift? I don’t think so. Do I think those conversations and those movements are occurring? I do.
It has been a very invigorating and refreshing experience, not without challenge, and a beautiful challenge—a necessary one for personal and societal growth.Norbaya Jameela Durr ’22 Student, Peer Mentor
Where’s your favorite place to hang out on campus?
Upstairs in the Schaible Science Center near Illinois Hall—where the staircase is located. Also, in Old Main there’s a classroom that’s often not occupied and occasionally I spend time there, completing classwork or writing poetry. That classroom is where I took my first English course. There’s a familiarity with this room. I go there often when I can.
How would you describe the Elmhurst experience?
It has been a very invigorating and refreshing experience, not without challenge, and a beautiful challenge—a necessary one for personal and societal growth.
Posted June 7, 2021