Tiaira Muhammad


Golden Women Main Scholarship Winner

Pursuing a Bachelors Degree in both Broadcast & Digital Journalism and Political Science

University of Southern California

Why continuing an education is so important to her:

“Continuing an education is important for me because not only am I a first-generation college student, but my brother was also living vicariously through me during my freshman year of college. My mother never went to college but she always instilled the importance of education to my brother and I at a young age. My mother never complains, but she did not want my brother and I to miss out on certain opportunities she missed out on because of a lack of education. Unfortunately, my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November during his senior year of high school. As a result, he missed his chance to apply to colleges and universities and ended up going to community college. While my brother felt blessed to be back in school so soon, he really stressed the importance to me of applying to college. My brother did not want anything to stop me from going to a 4-year university, as unexpected circumstances had for him. In the end, I became the first member of my family to get into a 4-year prestigious university: University of Southern California.

Coming to college definitely gave me a newfound passion to stress the importance of higher education in my community. While teachers, counselors and other mentors are great at trying to paint a picture of a typical college experience, nothing comes close to actually experiencing campus life first-hand. I learned so much inside and outside the classroom during my freshman year. The people I met really challenged my ideas and introduced me to many new ways of thinking and that’s something that you just won’t understand until you’re enrolled in a college or university. I also really loved my Black Student Assembly at my school, as they tackled issues like police brutality, the issue of colorism, black homophobia and so many other important social justice issues! The energy to actually truly change society is something that USC lives and breathes and that’s sort of an intangible experience you can’t necessarily explain to someone regardless if you’re an award-winning college counselor. College is truly something that shapes you and helps you mature, which why I feel it’s really important for someone to experience that first-hand, especially African-American students. I really want to inspire the black community to pursue higher education just for that reason, and just to prove that we can beat the stereotype.”

Tiaira proudly supports:

Black Student Assembly: As a Media Manager. Tiaira manages the BSA social media accounts and website to inform USC’s black community about BSA events to create a united atmosphere within the black community. She also publishes the weekly e-Newsletter and leads BSA meetings every second Monday of the month.

Anti-Defamation League: As a Los Angeles Delegate, she formed the club "Reach Me, Reach You," which raises awareness to high school students about the negative effects of bullying. Awareness is also spread through social media on Tumblr. Los Angeles delegates also promote anti-bigotry and anti-discrimination ideals in the LA area through social justice demonstrations.

USC National Association of Black Journalists: As a BSA Liaison, she provides a line of communication between USC NABJ and BSA. Tiaira also collaborates with other organizations related to USC NABJ and attend Black Journalists Association of Southern California chapter meetings to form networking events and workshops for aspiring journalists at USC.

Daily Trojan Newspaper: As a News Writer, she contributes 3 stories per month to the daily newspaper.

Annenberg TV News: As an Assignment Editor and Floor Manager, she tracks stories and contacts experts in their respective fields to secure interviews as assignment editor. She also provides a line of communication between the director and on-air anchors in studio.

Tiara’s community work includes:

Somerville Place Overnight Experience: Tiaira served as the Somerville Place Host, where she housed and guided 5 prospective African-American USC students per semester to provide insight to university life. Tiaira also mentored the participants after their on-campus experience through phone and email check-ups for a smooth transition from high school to college.

True Friendship Missionary Baptist Church: As a Youth Group Leader, she organizes activities for Children’s Church to inform youth about lessons of the Bible. She also guides the youth during special church productions and plays.

Los Angeles World Airport: Team LAWA: Tiaira volunteers for team LAWA at local community service events like beach cleanups and marathons.

Tiaira, what does the term “Golden Women” mean to you?

“When I hear the term Golden Women I think of tenacious, respectable, genuine women. A woman who is classy, someone who strives to help the community she comes from, and someone who is not submissive to the boundaries our patriarchal society has set. A woman that young girls can use as a positive role model. One of the most important features I think a Golden Women should have is the ability to constantly work on herself. Someone that is not too proud to admit their mistakes and turn them into lessons. If one does not have inner peace, how can that person truly help and inspire others. I also think the most important position a Golden Woman should have is to inspire younger girls to become Golden Women. There should not be an exclusive Golden Women club; young girls already have too many negative images and boundaries set by society. A Golden Woman is a woman who helps those outside of her bloodline. A woman who is willing to be completely selfless and help the greater community around her. Golden Women should be a support system for their communities and each other, because everyone can use a little guidance. Overall, Golden Women are humble women, who serve as a mentor for young girls and find giving back to their community one of their most important duties.”

Tiaira, describe something that is plaguing young women today and explain what can be done to turn it around? What can you do to help?

“Rape culture in America is definitely plaguing young women today. It all starts the day a young girl is born. Growing up there is pressure to be modest and submissive. Girls are told they’re not allowed to wear their skirts above their knees and their shirts above their midriff. “I mean that girl walked out in a crop top and mini skirt she was asking for it! Why would that guy rape her? He was one of her closest friends. She’s probably just too embarrassed to say she had sex with him. Not to mention he’s the star of the football team, why would she try to ruin his future like that? Some people will do anything for attention.” These are the comments girls have to face when they confide in someone about sexual assault. Living on a college campus has allowed me to see the toll rape culture has on young women. There have been many rape cases on USC’s “Row” or the National PanHellenic Conference that fail to even be acknowledged by the university. Girls on The Row are often too scared to even admit they’ve been raped because of the backlash they may receive from people they don’t even know, or worse, their friends. And to make matters worse, women that are raped and get pregnant have to go through leaps and bounds to get a safe abortion and are ridiculed for doing so. People also have a tendency to overlook marital rape; marriage does not mean wives (or husbands) have to consent to sex whenever their spouse is ready for it.

There definitely needs to be more awareness about the FACTS of the issue. Everyone knows rape is a problem at this point but people are not aware of the facts. I always shock people when I tell them that almost 50% of assaults are by those who know the victim, and barely 2% of rapists go to jail. People always assume rapists are creepy, strange men and that women always win their cases. The facts don’t lie, and more people need to be aware of them. One can always join a justice for sexual assault cause/club or donate to a cause but individually we can do so much more. Social media is a great way to get the word out there. At USC we started the ITooAmUSC campaign to raise awareness about marginalized communities on campus, and there’s no reason why people around the nation can’t do the same for sexual assault. It only takes one person to spark change and we can do that so easily just by setting up an Instagram account with pictures and video dedicated to justice for sexual assault. Student coalitions can also be formed to enact some legislation regarding rape babies and prosecution for sexual assault offenders. We can’t just talk about it; we have to be about it.”