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A fussy baby is what helped Moore sophomore Rabita Islam make up her mind to study graphic design.

Islam was working 18- to 20-hour days running a women’s fashion business in her home country of Bangladesh when one day her then-3-month-old daughter, Amani, wouldn’t drink her bottle of milk.

“She was crying and crying, and I wasn’t there,” Islam said. “That’s the day I realized I cannot continue to do this. I’m a mother now.”

Islam had a busy life in designing women’s outfits in Bangladesh, despite not having professional training or education in the field. She was named 'Best Performer of 2012' by Dell Bangladesh, under their social campaign "Dell SHE Power," which recognizes individuals' contributions in women empowerment in Bangladesh. She was going to fashion shows and conferences, and being interviewed for feature articles and television programs. She also had her own production line, with customized orders for clients.

“After having the baby, it was tough,” she said. “With fashion, you have to be there, do shows and go places for your work. What else can I do where I can be a designer and not sacrifice being a mom?”

Islam, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business studies from Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales, had put her plans to get a master’s degree on hold when she and her husband, Asif, learned she was pregnant. Once Amani turned 1 ½, Islam began looking at universities again, and discovered she needed a bachelor’s degree in design in order to move toward a master’s degree.

Friends who worked as graphic designers sometimes worked from home, or worked as freelancers, and that was attractive to Islam. “I was always interested in art and design when I was in middle school,” she said. She found universities in Bangladesh didn’t have the technology to teach graphic design and motion graphics.

“There are firms that have this technology for staff to work, but universities don’t have it for students to learn,” she said. “Most people are learning from YouTube.”

Islam’s parents were living in Philadelphia, so she looked at schools in the city. She was accepted to four other programs, ended up choosing Moore, and moved to Pennsylvania.

“What I liked about Moore was the community of it,” she said. “It was small, with not more than 12 to 15 students in class. A teacher can pay close attention to students, and I really liked that.” Islam received Moore’s Presidential Scholarship and the Moore Opportunity Grant. She is now working on earning her second bachelor’s degree, studying Graphic Design with a minor in Animation and Game Arts.

She thanks her husband, who plans to work on getting a doctoral degree after being a stay-at-home-dad, for helping her get through a demanding schedule.

“For my final I had to make something that was due the next day,” she said. “I went home and ate, fed Amani and put her to bed, then started working until 6 in the morning. I finished and got ready and came to class at 8:30. I didn’t sleep for 48 hours, but it was worth it. I got an A and made it to the dean’s list.”

When she’s not in class or doing homework, Islam loves to cook and travel with her husband. Islam has been to eight countries; her husband has been to 22. They collect cookbooks from the countries they’ve visited as souvenirs.

“I have a shelf full of cookbooks – Moroccan, French, Japanese, Chinese, Indian,” she said. She likes to make ravioli, pad thai, couscous, spaghetti and pie.

Philadelphia weather is something she’s still getting used to.

“Bangladesh is a tropical country, we don’t have snow,” she said. The now 3-year-old Amani, who was born in the U.S., loves the white stuff.

Published on January 9th, 2018