All in the ‘English High Family’
Updated: May 25
Salma Hussain Khan '10 carries on the EHS legacy
by Dan Eramian '67
Growing up in Bangladesh as a little girl, and almost eight thousand miles away from the US, Salma (Hussain) Khan, English High ‘10 couldn’t foresee that she would someday be a high school valedictorian and a dean’s list graduate from Smith College in the US - one of the most prestigious women’s colleges in the world. She neither foresaw that she would become a successful corporate computer engineer, be happily married to the love her life, and be living in Texas with her husband.
At the age of 14, Salma came to the United States with her family, which included her parents, a brother and two sisters. Her grandfather preceded the family making the trip to the US in the 80’s. The family settled in Boston’s Roslindale section.
Thousands of immigrants and first-generation students, like Salma have matriculated through English High over its 200-year-old history. The school was and is still a stepping stone opportunity for students for a better life. But the Hussain EHS story is a bit different. Not only did Salma graduate from English, her two siblings also graduated from EHS: her sister Najma Hussain (class of 2011) and her brother Jahirul Hussain (class of 2009).
Asked if she chose to go to English High she was quick to reply, “My uncle and aunt also went to English in the 90’s so there was never any question. If it was good enough for them it was good enough for us!” A true EHS family affair!
Salma credits much of her success to the “support I received from the teachers at English and the supportive environment they provided. They were like another set of parents to me. They would respond to my email questions any time of the day even during their personal time such as before school, after school, and during lunch hours.”
Salma appreciates the “personal engagement” of the faculty at English and had high praise for her teachers such as Lisa Pred-Sosa (English as a Second Language teacher), Erica Schwartz (Art teacher), Emily Silas (History teacher), and Lucia Rodriguez (Spanish teacher).
When Salma was a senior at English, her parents could not drive. So, her teachers Ms. Pred-Sosa and Ms. Schwartz took a day off to drive her and her mother to Smith College so that she could get acquainted and get to know the campus that she would be attending for next four years.
Salma’s teachers always pushed her to work hard and try harder to keep up with the academic demands of the school. She remembers her Spanish teacher Ms. Rodriguez made her review and edit her college essay at least 15 times. Ms. Pred-Sosa allowed her to leave her class a few minutes early so that she could attend an internship which would increase her chances of attending a better college. Salma also has kind remembrances of current EHS Head Caitlin Murphy, former history teacher, who would allow students to lunch with her while seeking guidance.
Salma also has fond memories of EHS’ big Thanksgiving Dinner. “We all would make pot luck dishes at home and bring them to share. It was a wonderful experience of us sharing our multicultural traditions and diverse meals with each other.”
Most of all Salma says the support and belief in her she gained from her EHS teachers helped give her confidence to succeed at Smith, a highly competitive college full of students from prestigious private and exam schools such as Latin School, and her subsequent career in finance and technology. Her EHS experience taught her never to shy away from a challenge and always to give her 100% no matter what she does in her life.
Her brother and sister have also done very well. Jahirul (UMass/Amherst) is in finance and currently working on his MBA while Najma is working as a corporate lawyer at an insurance company after receiving both her undergraduate and law degrees from Suffolk University.
Salma’s message to students at English High today is the same message she got from her EHS teachers, “believe in yourself, do not give up, work hard, and follow your passion.”