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Women’s History Month: Serving My New Country with a Passion for Increasing Participation in Census Surveys

By Zakera Ahmed, New York Regional Office Program Manager, U.S. Census Bureau

My love for and pride in public service came from watching my father, Badaruddin Ahmed, serve as a government official in Bangladesh. From the time I was a young child, I saw the respect he received from the community and learned the importance of civic duty. I knew I wanted to serve in the U.S. government since moving here with my parents at age 16.

After arriving in the United States, I went to high school and completed my bachelor's degree at Hunter College in New York City.  

After joining the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau as a field representative in 2008, I knew I was fulfilling my purpose after learning the importance of collecting quality data and how it impacts the nation’s communities.

When I became a partner specialist on the 2010 Census team two years later, I was surprised to find out that so many people in this country knew so little about the importance of participating in the decennial census and other Census Bureau surveys. This fueled my passion as a field supervisor, regional survey manager, and now as a program coordinator in the U.S. Census Bureau’s New York Regional Office.

In my personal journey, I’ve encountered many derogatory comments about my race and religion. However, that didn’t stop me from pushing forward and meeting my public service goals.

I was surrounded by strong, hard-working women who encouraged and inspired me to continue to work hard no matter the challenges. Women’s History Month is special to me because we celebrate the women who helped make this nation a more inclusive place so that we can all be recognized and treated equitably.

As a Muslim minority woman in a leadership position, I am grateful for my family’s support and the support of  the New York Regional Office management team.  I hope my hard work and dedication can make a difference in collecting quality data for our nation.

This blog post is part of a series showcasing the women leaders from across the U.S. Department of Commerce in honor of Women's History Month. 

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