Over the years, I have written a lot about the impact my mother had on my life and my business. No matter the situation, she always seemed to have the perfect words of wisdom.
At a young age, for example, I remember her telling me to “always honor those who made an impact on your life.” That is something I have never forgotten.
And that is why, as we prepare to celebrate another Mother’s Day, I can’t think of a better way to honor my mother’s legacy than with the creation of the Salma Khatoon Farid Award. My wife, Asma, and I will present the award each year to a teacher who has made a positive impression on the lives of young immigrants.
We recently had the opportunity to honor our first recipient, Nancy Caddigan, during Connecticut Immigration Day. Ms. Caddigan has spent the last 40 years serving Hartford and the community’s immigrants by guiding and encouraging them on to academic and vocational success.
She currently is responsible for helping teen, young adult and adult immigrant/refugee students successfully transition into post-secondary education, vocational training or the workforce. Over her career, she has also served as the English as a Second Language (ESL) program director for a local community college, an ESL instructor for Hartford Public Schools, Adult Division, as well as at the Mexican-North American Institute in Mexico City. She also served as co-coordinator of a high school-to-college transition program sponsored by the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education.
The award honors not only my mother’s legacy, but allows us to celebrate the selfless dedication of our teachers who have the critical responsibility of molding future generations.
And I know first-hand how important their influence can be.
When my family and I emigrated from Pakistan to the United States, I was entering the 6th grade, I could barely speak English and wasn’t accustomed to American culture. Fortunately, my teacher that year was Ms. Beckwith (now Mrs. Carol Warner). She went out of her way to help me — and my family — learn the language and immerse ourselves in our new home’s culture and way of life.
The impact she had on my life remains with me today.
So when the Connecticut Immigrant & Refugee Coalition presented Asma and me with the opportunity to start an education award we did not hesitate.
Each year, when we present this award, it will be one more opportunity to celebrate my mother’s wisdom and the positive impact Ms. Beckwith made on my life at a young age. And this weekend, I hope all of you will join me in finding your own way to say Thank You! to all the mothers around the world for their sacrifices, their love and the hope for a better life they give us all.