“Do the thing that scares you the most, because it’s probably worth it,” Huma Abedin wrote, as she signed a copy of her memoir, “Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds.”
Since her start working as an intern at the White House in 1996, Abedin has continued to prove herself as a force to be reckoned with. Working alongside former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton, Abedin climbed the political ranks as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and vice chair of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Now, Abedin is telling her side of the story and sharing her experience with the world. She joined CSUN President Erika D. Beck at The Soraya on Friday, Nov. 12, for a special discussion about Abedin’s new memoir and book signing for attendees.
“I always felt like whenever people were talking about me in the press, that they were somehow telling a narrative about me, about my story,” Abedin said of her motivations to write the book. “And I realized that if I didn’t reclaim that, if I didn’t sit down and write my story, that somebody was writing my history for me.”
The book covers Abedin’s upbringing as a child of immigrant parents — having an Indian father and Pakistani mother, her exposure to different cultures and opportunities to travel the world from a young age. She also dives into the importance of education in her family, the struggles she experienced in her career and her personal life as a mother.
Beck, who moderated the conversation, asked Abedin questions about her childhood, career, and roles as a mother and woman in leadership.
“My grandmother had a quote she would say to me every day when I was little: ‘Never let the fear in your mind prevent your feet from moving you forward,'” Beck said. “And I think your story encapsulates so much of what she intended by that quote.”
In talking about her parents, Abedin noted the key role they played in her ability to soak in different cultures and faiths, giving her an appreciation and understanding of other people’s perspectives.
“So much about my life really is honoring my parents — the legacy, the sacrifices they made to give me this extraordinary life,” Abedin said.
She also discussed courageous leadership, saying that sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do, and sharing various experiences where she learned that lesson in her professional life. For example, Abedin recounted her road in coming to terms with Hillary Clinton’s decision as senator to vote “yes” for the Iraq War in 2003, even though Abedin herself was opposed to it.
Abedin also shared her struggles as a mom to balance her work life with parenting duties, stressing the importance she put on forgiving herself when she couldn’t be the best at both and noting that her Muslim faith has sustained her in challenging moments.
In discussing women in politics and leadership roles in general, Abedin recalled her experiences working on Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 2008. Many people doubted that a woman could hold such a position of power, Abedin said. Eight years later during the 2016 campaign, the situation hadn’t improved that much, she noted.
“This movement, women stepping up and raising their voices and saying, ‘Enough is enough, we need a seat at the table’ — we need to continue that conversation and very loudly, because we are losing seats and power stalls,” Abedin said.
After the conversation, Abedin signed more than 100 books for attendees, including CSUN students who were eager to talk to her and learn more about her journey.
“To see a woman of color in the public eye who’s a huge political figure and to [hear] her story, that inspired me,” said Isabela Gutierrez, a freshman political science student.
The event was organized and sponsored by CSUN’s Office of Government and Community Relations.