Motivating Stories from Local Women
Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for a truly motivating story by a woman who experienced them firsthand.
Photography by Rich Smith / Photos taken on location at Hotel Indigo
Nasera Souidi-Johnson, Signal Mountain
My parents moved from Algeria (North Africa) to France in the early 60s, and I was born in Thionville, France. I am the youngest in a family of eight, and when I was five, we moved to Mont-Saint-Martin, where we finally had the luxury of a bathroom inside the house and four bedrooms. There was a school right behind our home, and I longed to go there every day, but I couldn’t because my parents missed registration. They were both illiterate, and growing up in the countryside in Algeria during French colonization did not provide an opportunity for them to become educated, so school was not a priority. I dreamed of going to school, learning to read and write, getting a job, and traveling the world.
Education was the key to my freedom and independence. Despite our traditional environment, my mother was secretly supportive of me. After completing degrees in math, physics, and computer science, I interned with an international cargo shipping company, which led to my first job in information technology, and I was blessed with teachers and colleagues who believed in my potential. I moved to Luxembourg in 1995, which started my international travels, and I have since visited Austria, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Lebanon, and Tunisia, among many other countries.
I embraced meeting people from all over the world, including my husband. In 2002, we moved to the United States and currently live in Signal Mountain raising our three boys while celebrating diversity. Moving to the United States was scary and challenging, but with a positive mindset, I established relationships to make it my home away from home, thanks to my family, friends, colleagues, and my running tribe. I now lead the IT Service Management team at a large insurance company and pay it forward by volunteering with international and education-focused organizations such as the International Business Council, TN Achieve, Junior Achievement, and by founding the French American Chamber of Commerce.
Overcoming challenges, now living my American dream, I encourage everyone to always show an attitude to gratitude, follow their passion, and live life to the fullest.