Former Kish student Zohra Firdose recognized with NIU Outstanding Women Student Award


Former Kishwaukee College student Zohra Firdose was recognized with the NIU Outstanding Women Student Award in April. The NIU award began in 1980 to cultivate and recognize leadership in students who identify as women. Firdose credits her year at Kish and Kish Assistant Professor of Accounting Everett Westmeyer with helping her find a meaningful direction and purpose for her college career and future.

“I’ve always had an internal drive to want to be someone and to do something that would make a positive impact,” Firdose says. Firdose had a difficult childhood, partially due to not growing up with her parents. “I was placed in situations that required me to act way beyond my age due to family issues,” she says. High expectations placed on her from her household coupled with her desire to always do the right thing and to do good in the world helped Firdose begin to think like a leader and develop a selflessness that has since served her well. 

In 2016, she married Mohammed Khan, an accountancy student at NIU, and moved to DeKalb. The transition into her new life was challenging but her yearning to do good in the world motivated her.  She attended Kish for a year before transferring to NIU. “The programs at Kish and NIU allowed me to express myself and I took every opportunity to develop myself to be better and better,” she comments.

“Kish is a small school and that serves as a benefit to many students,” comments Westmeyer. “I think the environment was the right place for Zohra to come into her own.” Westmeyer attributes Firdose’s participation in the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Challenge Case Competition where Firdose came out of her shell and emerged as “a natural leader and role model to her peers.” Along with her participation in the PwC Challenge, Firdose was an active member of the Business Club on Kish campus. Now at NIU, she is pursuing a bachelor’s in Accountancy.

At NIU, Firdose held numerous formal leadership positions: President of Accounting Leadership Advisory Council (ALAC) in Fall 2018; Vice President of the honor organization Beta Alpha Psi – Gamma Pi in Fall 2018; President Elect of the honor organization in Spring 2019 and will serve as President in the upcoming fall semester. She had an internship at RSM US LLP in their assurance division and made the Fall 2018 Dean’s list at NIU.

Dr. Don Tidrick, from NIU’s Accountancy Department, nominated Firdose for the Outstanding Women Student Award. After being nominated, Firdose submitted a completed application, overviewing her academics, leadership and service to the university, community involvement, and personal goals and challenges. NIU held a recognition ceremony for the award recipients in April.

“I want to thank Everett for his continued support and encouragement throughout these years, as I truly attribute any form of recognition or success to him first,” Firdose says. “I’ve accomplished so much in so little time and I’m hopeful for my future and what I will be able to contribute.”

Westmeyer holds his bachelor’s in Accountancy and a master’s in Education. He has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1979 and often incorporates his industry experience in the classroom. “The accounting program at Kish emphasizes critical thinking,” Westmeyer states. “Because accounting is a conceptually-based discipline, we teach students how to apply and communicate larger concepts into practical application.”

In 2017, Westmeyer was recognized with the Illinois CPA Society Outstanding Accounting Educator Award and 2018 Kish Board of Trustees Award of Excellence. “When a person is in my class, they often think about what I’m doing to them, but eventually they begin to see what I did for them,” Westmeyer adds.

To learn more about the accounting program at Kish College, visit  or contact Accounting Assistant Professor Everett Westmeyer at or 815-825-9362.

Photo Caption: Former Kish student Zohra Firdose recognized with 2019 NIU Outstanding Women Student Award. Picture 1: Zohra Firdose. Photo provided by Firdose. Picture 2: Everett Westmeyer, Zohra Firdose and other participants of the PwC Challenge. Photo provided by Westmeyer.

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