My story began way back when...
This week, we highlight Assistant State’s Attorney, Naheda Zayyad. Even though I am on the defense side, I have always had a massive amount of respect for Naheda. She believes in her work and provides for the community. This is her story.
My story began way back when...
As I reflect on what women’s history month means to me, I can’t help but feel grateful and inspired by the women I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to. I remember my teenage days, watching my mother juggle school, work and caring for our family. I watched her tackle all these responsibilities, all the while looking fabulous and charismatic. You see, my mother was following her dream of becoming a dress designer. I watched a woman break the shackles of a male dominated culture, obtain her degree, buy a retail building, and grow a business. Her mother and mother-in-law emigrated to America, with nothing, and kept their large families in line while their husbands toiled for hours on end in their businesses. Those men could not, dare I say, would not have been able to succeed without their wives “holding the fort”, so to speak.
I was mesmerized by the women in my life. They were strong, smart women who withstood wars, poverty, and heartbreak, yet persevered. I knew from a young age the kind of woman I wanted to be. I wanted not only to be strong, but devoted and accomplished as well. My aim was not only to resemble them but make and take every opportunity to accomplish more than they were ever offered.
At a very young age, my desire was to go into law. The celebration of my graduation from law school included my entire extended family and friends and filled a banquet hall. Not only was I the first attorney in the family, I was the first to attain a doctorate. Not only did I see how proud I made them all feel, I felt it. Throughout my journey, I was encouraged by these same family and friends. But this moment was the first time I felt the impact my accomplishments in education and professional growth had on others. Older generations of family and friends lived vicariously through me. They used my journey to teach their kids. I now know through discussion with those kids, that some of the younger generations were inspired by me. But alas, my work and journey had just begun.
Throughout law school, I worked as a law clerk for several law firms, subsequently going on to work as a judicial clerk for multiple judges at the Daley Center in the law division. I sat in on trials and hearings and wrote legal opinions that later were adopted by the judges. I then worked at the Attorney General’s Office as a legal clerk with a special license that afforded me the right to practice and litigate in the Courts. Afterward, I was hired by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office as an Assistant State’s Attorney.
Growing up, I always wanted to stand up and fight for what was right, protect the vulnerable, and inspire good in people. I found a home at the State’s Attorney’s Office as it offers me the opportunity to do just that. I forge relationships with victims and advocate on their behalf to protect them from the criminals creating harm in their lives. I prosecute the offenders and argue in court for justice on behalf of not only their victims, but the People of the State of Illinois. My daily goal is to make a substantial impact in the lives of the people I encounter throughout my time as a prosecutor. I promote peace and hopefully obtain justice in order to help provide closure to those that need it after their encounter with these oftentimes tragic circumstances in their lives.
I stand on the shoulders of all the women that, notwithstanding their personal and professional obstacles, paved the road with opportunities that I have been afforded. I never take them for granted, and I hope my journey assists in paving that same road for the generations of women to come.
BY : NAHEDA ZAYYAD HUSSIEN