Hoover High School, Class of 2018
University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2022
Story by Ani Amirkhanian
Amira Chowdhury is the epitome of the immigrant success story.
The 18-year-old Hoover High School graduate migrated to the United States six years ago from her native Bangladesh and quickly learned that opportunities come along through hard work and dedication.
She knew from the beginning that she had to commit herself to her studies to further her education.
“That was my first priority,” Chowdhury said. “Having strong academics was important to me because it was the stepping stone for me to get accepted to college. For me to be able to reap the benefits I had to make sure academically that I had to give it my all.”
Not only did Chowdhury excel – with 14 AP classes and a 4.8 GPA under her belt – she also dedicated herself to student government and public service. She served as class president during her freshmen, sophomore and junior years and her senior year as ASB president.
With her student government duties underway, Chowdhury co-founded Peerlift.org, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational resources and opportunities to students. Chowdhury still serves as the associate outreach director for the organization.
“Peerlift.org democratizes access to education,” she said. “We are a live presence to give students opportunities.”
Hoover High principal Dr. Jennifer Earl noticed early on that Chowdhury had a knack for leadership. She always took advantage of every opportunity and was good at networking with other students outside of Hoover for her outreach work with Peerlift.org, she said.
“Amira really has a vision of making the world a better place,” Dr. Earl said. “She absolutely believes she has the power to change things.”
Chowdhury also worked with the Student Advisory Council throughout her four years of high school.
“The members of [Student Advisory Council] discussed what was going on in school and what schools are doing to adopt new goals,” she said. “Every meeting there is a portion where they can address issues and they can connect with other ASB presidents of other high schools and learn what’s going on during their board of education meetings.”
During her tenure with the Student Advisory Council, Chowdhury was elected as a student board member. In that role, she was a representative for the student body, attending school board meetings to learn more about issues facing the district.
Chowdhury’s work in student government took her beyond the district’s board room. She interned with Congressman Adam Schiff and learned the inner workings of the political system.
“It was an enlightening experience for me in terms of understanding our local constituents and their political activities for this country,” she said.
Her role with the congressman’s office included doing voter outreach, volunteer recruitment, voter registration and working on different facets of a campaign, she said.
“Working with him and seeing him work with other students and recognizing what other students can do allowed me to further my appreciation for student activism in a political climate,” Chowdhury said.
Her hard work and leadership did not go unrecognized. She was a recipient of the district’s Dr. Michael F. Escalante Senior Scholarship Award. The award is presented to an outstanding senior from one of each of Glendale’s high schools.
Chowdhury began school at the University of Pennsylvania with a full tuition scholarship in the summer. She plans on double majoring in philosophy and political science with a minor in urban education.
She is the first in her family to attend college.