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City Tech Student Named Recipient of 2007 Liberty Medal for Freedom

Nooria Nodrat with NYC Police Commissioner
Ray Kelly

Photo Courtesy New York Post

City Tech student Nooria Nodrat has been named recipient of the New York Post/News Corporation’s 2007 Liberty Medal for Freedom in recognition of her courage, perseverance and generosity in the aftermath of a series of tragedies that began in her native Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Nooria, who will graduate this year with a bachelor’s degree in human services, immigrated to the United States in 1991, after losing her husband in a terrorist bombing in Kabul in 1988 and earlier watching in horror as fanatics kidnapped her brother, who is still missing. When she relocated to New York, she was forced to leave her two children behind in the care of her late husband’s brother, who then refused to allow them to join her here. In 1995, she was able to bring her children to Flushing, where she lived at the time before moving to Long Island City.  

Then, in 1997, Nooria was robbed of her eyesight on a New York City subway after a drug-addicted teenage girl repeatedly punched her in the head, inflicting such extensive damage that it was necessary for doctors to remove both of her eyes. In Afghanistan, her husband and older brother had been blind, and Nooria had worked as a proofreader for the Institute of the Blind and learned Braille, an ability that would serve her well in her own later struggle.

Countless New Yorkers and others read about her courage and determination in a widely published profile that appeared in the local and regional media as she trained to participate in the 2006 New York City Marathon. The city would read about her again in an October 4, 2007, New York Post feature, “Blind Devotion,” that both recounted the many tragedies she had endured and overcome and announced her nomination by City Tech’s Office of Communications for the New York Post/News Corporation’s Liberty Medal for Freedom.

The medal was presented at a reception and awards ceremony emceed by TV talk show host Regis Philbin at the New York Academy of Science on October 17. Nooria was in exceptional company, including that of Tuskegee Airman and former Bronx Community College President Roscoe Brown and lifesaving subway hero Wesley Autrey, who were among the 10 New Yorkers honored that evening for their gifts to humanity. Nodrat’s story was a subject of conversation the following morning on ABC’s “Live With Regis & Kelly.” Philbin and co-host Kelly Ripa discussed Nooria in such moving terms that a New Jersey viewer was prompted to phone the College.  

Despite the losses that have beset her, Nooria has done exceptionally well in her City Tech studies, maintaining a 3.7 Grade Point Average and making the time to contribute to the College and larger community in many ways. Following graduation, she plans to earn master’s and doctoral degrees from Hunter College to prepare for a career as a clinical psychologist. Her children – a son, Raimen, 28 and a computer programmer, and a daughter, Matsa, 23 and completing studies to become an elementary school teacher, – have done well academically and have made her exceptionally proud.

And all New York is proud of Nooria. As president of the National Federation of the Blind's New York Student Division, she helps blind high school and college students navigate the higher education system. Her strong knowledge of computers and technologies for the visually impaired has proven to be very useful in this and related work.

She has worked with the heads of the disability offices of 15 area colleges to develop strategies to help disabled students. In addition, she has created a foundation to help blind women and children in Afghanistan, and by raising her voice, to encourage sighted people to join her in the struggle to assist other organizations that help women and the disabled. She is also an active member of the Women’s Association of New York and was a volunteer in the Department of Music Therapy at the Queens Center for Progress.

Nooria has received various awards and scholarships in recognition of her activism and academic achievements from the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council of the Blind and the New York City Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, among others. In 2006, she received a Benjamin H. Namm Scholarship from City Tech.

“Nooria Nodrat is yet another outstanding example,” says Andrew I. Namm, chair emeritus of the City Tech Foundation and president of the Namm Foundation, “of the commitment to community assistance that has been a hallmark of the College since its founding more than 60 years ago. Her Liberty Medal for Freedom is well deserved and all New York can be grateful for what this gallant woman is doing with her life in the service of others.”

Namm’s words were echoed by City Tech President Russell K. Hotzler: “Nooria is a one-of-a-kind champion.  She has overcome incredible obstacles in her life and has excelled at everything to which she has turned her hand. Her commitment to family, to community service, and to an academic and professional career is simply astonishing. By successfully running the marathon last year - and again this year - she continues to set a remarkable example for all of us to follow. Nooria is well deserving of the honor bestowed on her by the New York Post/News Corporation and the entire College community is extremely proud of her.”  


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