Melissa Westbrook grew up in the country in a very small town outside St. Louis, Missouri. She attended law school at NYU and ended up living and working in New York for 15 years. She then moved to Chicago to be closer to family and raise her three kids in the Midwest, now ages 20, 18, and 12. She prays they will be guided to Islam one day as well inshallah. She was introduced to the faith through Ta’leef, where she is an active volunteer along with another organization called Ojala Foundation.
During the pandemic, Melissa began studying Arabic with the Ribaat Academic Institute. She felt rusty studying for exams but loved the experience of taking a class and even enjoyed doing homework.
“Anse Nishat Lal is an amazing teacher,” says Melissa. “If you ever get a chance to take a class with her, jump at it! I can’t express how much I loved it, and it was even more fun the second time around. I retook it to solidify my knowledge and highly recommend taking it twice if you’re up for it. I have learned an incredible amount.”
Aside from her Arabic classes, Melissa has also taken workshops with Ribaat like Project Lina and MBTI Personality Types. She enjoys attending the Rabata Masjid as well and finds in it a great sense of community, even though it is virtual.
“I really feel like the sisterhood and the scholarship is unique at Ribaat,” Melissa shares. “I’m grateful for the camaraderie during classes and workshops. Both Rabata and Ribaat are highly regarded amongst Muslim circles.”
Melissa wants to continue learning Arabic, so she can read and recite the Quran. In her free time, she likes to learn new things that are completely out of her comfort zone like using watercolors and power tools. She does not enjoy public speaking but is finding it less ‘painful’ over time.