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Riding into History

Doaa Dorgham boarded a bus for a once-in-a lifetime history lesson on civil rights.

The junior psychology major is one of 40 students chosen for the Freedom Ride, which retraces the path civil rights activists took in 1961. Freedom Riders rode buses into the segregated South to test a Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms of interstate bus terminals. Committed to nonviolence, they endured hatred, beatings and imprisonment.

For Dorgham, one of the most moving parts of the experience has been meeting the original Freedom Riders during a taping of “Oprah” and in Washington, D.C., the first stop on her 10-day tour.

“It was so incredibly powerful to be in the presence of people who have risked their lives for change, to promote unity and justice,” she says. “Interacting with them, they were the most humble individuals I’ve ever met.”

Airport Challenges

Before she could get on the bus, Dorgham, a Palestinian American, had to get through the airport. As a Muslim who wears a scarf called a hijab she received heightened attention, including a hostile glares and a thorough pat-down at the security checkpoint.

“The irony of the situation is incredibly profound,” Dorgham wrote in her first blog post. “Here I am about to partake in a journey that is celebrating the effectiveness of the Freedom Rides, yet I am in an airport facing animosity and discrimination.”

Watch the “Meet Doaa Dorgham” video.

Continuing Education

Throughout her journey, Dorgham will share her experiences using social media. You can follow her on Twitter via @doaa_dorgham, on Facebook or on the student Freedom Riders website.

Next fall, Dorgham will share what she’s learned with her peers during the Caldwell Fellows sophomore seminar on servant leadership. She also plans to continue her involvement in Wake Up, It’s Serious, an organization founded by NC State professor Rupert Nacoste, that’s dedicated to “stopping intolerance in its tracks.”

Her career goal is to become an educational counselor in the school system. But she says she has gained inspiration for wherever her future path may lead.

“The experience I’ve had the past week makes me feel obligated to continue the legacy that people risked their lives for.”