Organized by Heritage’s administrative staff under Mrs. Melanie Hoffman, the Women’s History Month (WHM) talk, “Inspiring Stories From Leaders In Our Community: A Celebration of Women’s History Month,” featured Assistant U.S Attorney Mrs. Francis Viamontes and past president of the American Medical Women’s Association Dr. Farzanna Haffizulla. The talk took place March 31 at 7 p.m., led by GirlUp president senior Alisha Patel.
“Dr. Haffizulla and Mrs. Viamontes were chosen to speak for this event as they are both brilliant and exceptional female role models who strive to inspire not only the students, but also the women of our community,” Patel said.
Mrs. Viamontes, Chief of the Violent Crimes and Narcotics division in the Ft. Lauderdale office, grew up in Hialeah, Fla. and knew from an early age that she wanted to be a lawyer. At Heritage, she coaches the middle and high school mock trial students.
“My humble upbringing has really helped me connect with a lot of different types of people. A lot of the cases that I prosecute, the victims are kids in foster care or children that have already been abused and taken advantage of. I understand their position better because of my childhood,” Mrs. Viamontes said.
Dr. Haffizulla, Chair of Department of Internal Medicine at Nova Southeastern University’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, grew up in Trinidad. Her mother, a nurse, would take her to the hospital, and young Haffizulla would come with her to entertain the babies there. Today, she teaches students at Heritage who are involved in the Pre-Medicine track.
“[I would see] babies and little children just tethered to IVs and beeping monitors, no family around them, and many of them crying. In my four-year-old world I’m like ‘Oh my gosh we have to tell stories, we have to sing and we’ve got to dance.’ I remember feeling a deep yearning to cure them, to save them and to become some kind of a superhero,” Dr. Haffizulla said.
As a mother of four children, Dr. Haffizulla influences and motivates them. “As a child, seeing her progress throughout her career has inspired me to always push the extra mile and try hard to achieve my goals. My mom is not only an inspiration to me, but she is also one of the biggest pillars in my life,” sophomore Nadia Haffizulla said. “I am very proud of my mother for giving her talk, as her words impacted me in such a way that they were ingrained into my mindset and fired up my ambitions. I know that she will do the same tonight for many others.”
At the event, both speakers talked about women who have influenced them, the struggles they overcame to be where they are today, the role of social media in bringing women down and advice to the rising generation in how to achieve maximum potential.
They discussed how students should not say no to themselves, maintain a positive mindset and that it is never too early to start networking with others.
Overall, both women acted as physical representation that success is possible and encouraged students to be the best possible versions of themselves, with advice on how they faced personal obstacles throughout their careers.