Irene Chidinma Nwoye, Village Voice Ahlam Ahmed
Ahlam Ahmed is determined to become a New York City firefighter. The petite eighteen-year-old of Yemeni descent stands five feet tall, weighs just 105 pounds, and is well aware of the physical challenges inherent to the job. But she is resolute.
In a dining room at the FDNY Academy on Randalls Island, Ahmed is the only observant Muslim in a group of about 60 women. They range from military veterans and teenage members of the department's Explorer program to college athletes and hopefuls who have already taken the department's most recent firefighter exam. They're all here to participate in the FDNY's first-ever Women's History Month Female Outreach Event, created to help inspire more women to join the department.
"I want to see what the FDNY has to offer," Ahmed says matter-of-factly. She is dressed in jeans and a red sweater. A white scarf artfully conceals her neck, ears, and hair.