Saraya Boghani is another beautiful friend from Hamline University. Our paths connected in many ways during college – friends in common, Residential Life, Spring Break Service Learning, White Privilege Conference and plus-size clothing.  Saraya is reflective, creative, kind, strong, and has a lovely grace and style about her.

Saraya a 25 year old Minnesota native currently residing in CARAG neighborhood of Minneapolis. She is interested in the immersive experience of pop culture exploration with intersecting identities. Saraya self-identifies as biracial and has family from Hutchinson, MN to Sydney, Australia and everywhere in between.

Coming from a long line of educators, Saraya engages in every opportunity to learn about the world. She developed a love for learning about people while managing two coffee shops – along with a serious coffee habit and respect for the entire bean process. Currently working in higher education myself, I was excited to learn that Saraya is embarking on a new career path - recently starting a position in higher education advising. She says she’s loving it so far!

Saraya attended my first ever plus-size clothing swap. (I would argue that it was the start of all of this.  ("This" being Cat’s Closet, Cat Inspired, my world take over, etc.). It was the first event that allowed me to celebrate women around me, exchange plus-size clothing, and share body positivity – all at one time.

One of my favorite memories with Saraya was a wonderful and eventful week visiting White Earth Reservation in Northern Minnesota. My last semester at Hamline I was technically graduated and taking some grad classes to keep my Assistant Area Coordinator position while applying for jobs and making plans for the future. My grad student status allowed me to be the staff advisor for a spring break service learning trip to White Earth where students and I worked with the White Earth Land Recovery Project. (I remember I specifically helped to organize their library, sort seeds for their seed catalogs, and worked in a greenhouse.) We also explored Itasca State Park (where the mighty Mississippi River begins), played with farm animals, and attended a moving and ground-breaking day conference on Historical Trauma in the Native American community. There were some amazing women on that trip. And, if it had not already been solidified, my fondness for Saraya was further confirmed during our time together at White Earth.  

Saraya (and Maum) were also the only folks who showed up to my graduation party (besides my mom and sis). Heavy rains, flooding, and strong winds didn’t stop them and allowed us some great bonding time while taking shelter in the park restrooms. ;) (See photo below.)

Saraya has a fierce love for social justice and the many forms it takes. Her specific areas of interest include: food justice, indigenous rights, civil rights within racial and LGBTQA communities, as well as general and personal feminism. She also is always looking to stride forward in her personal journey. I admire this in Saraya. These are traits I truly value in others.

Saraya is certainly an inspiring woman in my circle! Read about what and who inspire her as well as some words of wisdom below. . .

What inspires you?

The creative process and seeing people fully engaged and enthusiastic with their lives.  Music!  I have an incredibly strong love for music, don't participate but am an enthusiastic listener and supporter.  The circle of friends and family that support me and give me life.  The written and spoken word - the way language can diffuse and create meaning is so powerful. 

What women inspire you? 

“My mother:  she cares so deeply and has been so supportive of anything I've wanted to do.  She has never conformed to others expectations and hasn't expected me to either.  My views are very radical, in my opinion, from the household I've grown up in but at the same time my mother (and father by extension) have been completely open to dialogues and creating shared mindsets.  She's given me a lot of autonomy.  Also, a woman named Kerry who is a Judge within MN.  I knew her through Girl Scouts (an incredibly empowering and important organization) and she dedicated a lot of her work and spirit to me in a way I still don't fully understand.  There are so many others and I know there will continue to be more."

If you had one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?

“I feel like I didn't participate in a lot of the dramatics of high school and did what I wanted most of the time but I would've asked myself to question authority more.  Not in an angst driven way but at that point in my life I trusted wholly in the discretion and certainty of adults.  Also I would've told myself to cool my jets and not be stressed.  I mean when you've only lived for so long everything seems "do or die" but it's not.  It's not worth that energy.”

A few more thoughts from Saraya:

“I was very fortunate to come into a loving family and a good, albeit closed minded, education.  Girl Scouts provided me with a long term demonstration of a community of women.  I think that created a social pattern for me to reach out and connect with strong women.  Many of my closest friends are women and everyone else I'm close with knows how important it is to have autonomous women in their lives as well.  I'm pretty darn happy with who I am and where my life is headed. It hasn't always been that way but there have been so many people to help me become who I am. Also, hooray for Cat putting together this marvelous project.  This is a sustaining and celebrating testimonial to power and love and the future.” [Thank you, Saraya!!]

This March, I am celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!