Prepare to be inspired as we dive into the captivating life story of Mona Rowan on this episode of the Underdog Podcast. Mona, a professor at Stone Hill, takes us on a remarkable journey of resilience and determination. From growing up in war-torn Lebanon during the Civil War to overcoming unimaginable challenges, Mona’s story is a shining example of the human spirit’s triumph over adversity.
Mona’s life is a testament to the power of resilience and unwavering determination. Despite facing numerous obstacles, she refused to surrender to despair. Through countless surgeries and setbacks, Mona’s pursuit of success never wavered. She became a role model for her children and for those around her.
In this episode, Pamela explored the key moments and themes that shaped Mona’s extraordinary journey. Among the highlights of the conversation are:
- What inspired Mona on her journey to where she is today?
- What were the devastating effects of the Civil War in Lebanon that changed Mona’s life?
- How does Mona strive to overcome adversities, struggles, and challenges and still make a difference?
- How did language and education help Mona turn Mona’s life? How did it lead her to teach?
- What are the best lessons and life experiences Mona can impart to everybody?
Join us for one of the most inspiring conversations in The Underdog Show here:
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The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:
- Website: https://pamelabardhi.com
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- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@elevatethroughrealestate
Ready to elevate your life and take ownership of your power? Join Pamela for a 15-minute call to set clear goals and build your game plan today! Visit http://meetwithpamela.com/ to schedule your session now.
Click To Read The Transcript
Mona Rowan’s Resilient Journey for Hope Amidst Civil War
Hi, I’m Kevin Harrington, an original shark from the hit television show Shark Tank and you’re listening to the underdog podcast
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the underdog Podcast. Today I have an incredible guest here with me, Mona Rowan. How are you?
Good. How are you?
I’m doing awesome thing. I know, I know. But here you are smiling and looking beautiful and still taking life by storm day by day. You really are. And it’s so interesting how we’ve met. you reached out to me because you’re a professor at Stone Hill. which still holds a very, very special place in my heart near and dear.
And you started telling me about your story. And I was like, hold on a second. I’m like, we gotta get you on the podcast to really share everything about who you are. Because you’re amazing. Thank you. So I’m going to ask you wrote my first question Mona. which I love to start with, because it’s really the baseline of everything. what inspired you on your journey to where you are today.
Just to talk about how you felt the need to develop to make your dream come through the thought of something. even though I had gotten shot during the war, civil war in Lebanon 1976. I had a dream of succeed in life. And despite all the problem and all the operations I had to have. never wants to go say, Okay, I give up now, I can’t do it, or I had an awful place.
In fact, the more problem I had, the more I felt I need to pause. when I got married, and I had two children. I had to be the role model for them. And I possibly will more. then after that something, it became the schooling. to be the role model for them, and so on and so forth. And I felt if I give up now, our be a loser, not a role model.
I felt like I made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.
Man, amen. You mentioned you grew up in Lebanon. Yep. During the Civil War run. Oh, my God. What was that experience, like?
A lot of people know our webinar was, was called the parents of the Middle East. one of the most kind of educated people in the world. most people speak three languages. We believe in Thailand. Education is a beautiful country. you could go skiing or swimmin within a half hour and the alphabet were born there.
Which is something I’m very proud to fish societies Arabic, French and Spanish, I thought as well. But last year, I went on to say I was the head of the Arab department at Stone Hill. So yeah, I think some the word Alpha bet is an Arabic word for alpha four hours. which is in a in Arabic, that is a B. and the T slot an hour Arabic, there’s a D key not a we see.
And that’s why it’s called the alphabet. So yeah, and you know, the whole story behind how it came about. So I was always intrigued by languages and coming from a background where language was trust from kindergarten. I went to Catholic school, I sat like I had to pursue my dream.
And so when I came to America, I felt like, there was definitely a use for it. So that’s how I continued my education. But why some rubber man look beautiful. But you had asked me a question about what happened in 1976. There was a very mad, crazy war between Christian and Muslim. and there were an invasion on the Israeli border by Pol. And you know, people were killed for the Christian and our among those people.
In fact, they killed my brother and my sister saw something real. And that’s how I ended up and you as my dad, and I think here for a second opinion to the doctors. I’m asked several. They told me you have two choices. either go back home or you going to become the guinea pig? Because I have seen a case like mine ever. So when a doctor told me like no way I came all the way here to hear that. So tell me the truth.
So what happened Mona?
What actually happened? Yes, well, I lived in a beautiful Christian town. ever understand it will start to get very political between Christian and Muslim. So my town had like a checkpoint by the army. A lot of the Muslim Palestinians that were coming from the Israeli border, were transfer and weapons through our town. so that we can stop that arm and to get rid of the army of being trapped.
Somehow, there was a big conspiracy over our power to wipe off the man. You’re the Christian person, oh, my goodness, so they could get their way. So one night, what was sleeping on our beds. like, nothing like a regular and we’ll put here Allahu Akbar. which God is grey, by these monsters. And it just threw bombs on on the door, came in the house. killed my brother, my sister actually shot me in the face. I go with this, I got here, my head fell on the ground. My first fell on the ground.
And I was gone on the ground. They could not my dad, my brother and my mom got shot to they were later on taken by the army and me. And I think even right talk about it, it works so bad. I’m writing a book right now about my life. It’s been, a lot of struggle. But it’s a lot of success between the struggle which I have to give some credit to. if it wasn’t for my struggle, and my strong personality, and the love of my Christianity, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So I have very good memories and revenue. but very bad memories that cost me my life almost all because of wrong politician around the country the wrong way. And now when I talk to people in America, about the importance of protecting the border. because that happened to me because we had open border.
Everybody should be given the opportunity directly and you to come here legally and work hard at. but when you come we have an agenda in mind. That’s not good. That’s that’s the last time I spoke I spoke openly about it and lessons in Capitol Hill. Open borders the cost of your life that sometimes your parents.
I mean, I’m talking from experience, I have nothing to do with power. like was with Democrats or Republicans and has to do with the actual fact. Anyone can say come on. Oh, this is dow or, or don’t talk about this race or that. Okay, hello happened to me. I’ve been suffering for 45 years. Don’t tell me what to do.
Right. And you didn’t do anything wrong. You were sleeping in bed. And that just, I’m so sorry, that happened? Oh my gosh, I didn’t know the extent of it. I know you mentioned that there was huge, horrible things, but I didn’t know are hurt.
And I pray for those people. I pray for peace in the world that a lot of people just take for granted. They realise the Avila in our beautiful home good food to eat and all that. But on the spur of a moment, all that can be taken away from them because of an ideology. or a political Islam.
And I would argue with the strongest most powerful politician on that. I wouldn’t give a damn what a thing because you’re not gonna tell me. because No, right somewhere in the book, or you grew up with a household. where they believe that one party or one way their arm hurt. and had to tell you’re gonna tell them not.
Right, right? Well, that’s the reason why the United States is the US. It’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom, of freedom of everything. And that’s the beauty of it here. Like a lot of people don’t realise how blessed we are here. because look What happens
overseas is often just over political views, and religious views, and it’s still going on.
Unfortunately, it’s going on all over the world. And I could relate to every point everybody I encounter. whether they’re America or not, but when they hear my story, they have a whole bunch side. They’re like, No, I never thought of it that way. But it’s true. Is it is true or not, we’re gonna have to hear from the horse’s mouth.
Absolutely. You know, you think I’m happy to kick off my dream at the age of 19. Ready to go to college, start a while, and boom, I wake up with this, but nothing. Start. The first time after I had my first surgery. rather than when the nurse walking to the bathroom. I was in bed after surgery for like weeks and weeks.
First come out of that. looked in the mirror. I felt in the ground, I couldn’t believe the beautiful Mount. I know that as the guy wanted to go out with looked so bad. I was like, That’s man, I can’t live like that. Goodness. No one would understand people can go sit you all day they want with the political agenda on TV. But come and talk to me out. be willing to talk to buy them and buy. Nobody was gonna tell me otherwise.
Absolutely. And thank God that you were able to come here and have like a second chance to almost restart. you know, and get out of all of that. Yeah. Which is amazing. so after you and your dad came here, how did the story start from from that moment.
from that moment, my dad has three uncles. one of them stayed with my grandfather. and whether or not the two other uncle emigrated to the US. that was over 100 years ago or more, and also cook pretty much in England. and some of them in Michigan moved after. So I have relatives here that were American born.
And when my dipole moments going to surgery, my aunt was so good to me. Rhode Island, and she said, Honey, you could stay with me. I’ll take you to the back arrow was so painful. So after 10 months, my parents came back, and they were gonna stay temporary till I finish my surgeries. But since got worse, we’ll hire a good lawyer to stay here.
We’ll stay off political asylum on the political asylum purposes. because they had the proof that my brother and sister got killed because we lost our home. They bombed that. So the whole nine yards. So on that basis, we waited four years with all. and now we all start to go to school and bought a house after four years. we had all the proof that we could support. We’re not gonna be on public assistance.
My aunt was right there for us. We rented a house from her again. And so we all work hard to make ends meet and you know. do a good job at surviving. I have an older brother and sister. My brother is an engineer and my sister, the fashion designer, and my mom’s a seamstress. Excellent. She did that for a woman when I was in college. to make brochure to do alteration and trusses and our podium and all the professor’s mailbox.
Everybody knew they’re all coming to her deliver. So we struggled but we made that and we all got educated. But you know, even though we did talk about oh, and Mona and a background as scholars. through hell every year or two would most surgeries. and more uncertainty and until now until May 12 of last year. I almost died. I had a heart attack during surgery.
Yeah, stress is part of it too. So you get to a point where wife trouble and wife stress and more surgery. and everything in between that I don’t want to talk about gets. it just gets to a point where you can only take so much and that was the cause of the whole problem. the Hartman back what’s threat to all the injured vocal cord.
And here I am now just going back and forth to the doctor tried to fix the problem. And like I told you before, the big thing was they all want to do a surgery. ask them what’s a tribal totally out of my mind because the breathing issue. the thought that it wasn’t worth after the hospital.
Like I want to say June July, August, September works the toughest. I lost 27 pounds. And I was like anything I ate once through the the windpipe. There was stuff out the door and that stopped. My husband said she gotta eat us a product key. because those vocal cords or or the food was going in the wrong part.
And it was three weeks that you were in a coma after you work from home.
I don’t know what’s gonna happen. So yeah, it’s been a tough, I’ve seen all I’ve done it all. And in fact, I tell my students all the time, listen, have an assignment or a homework. Don’t cry over that. No, they love me they crickets. One thing I know about Scottsdale is my school. Proceed with so much. And also, yeah, spin, spin a very tough road. But I’m thankful for what I have accomplished. I’m thankful for having a good marriage.
My husband is a peach, very happy with my husband. And I have two good kids have done well. I tried my best to instil a lot of a lot of good things in online. They watched me suffer all these years and they know the value of good health. Oh yeah, I always come up like they really are into sport and pushing me on the gym all the time.
And Andrews very active, they both ski water ski, they do all kinds of stuff. And they eat the good food. So yeah. Like I said before, we already take your reputation with you. Absolutely. A lot of people in this world that can say they done the wrong things. Or they regret doing whatever they did.
In my mind, my mind is clear, I still clean and I feel good. The rest is it’s like you get to a point where we’ve got no choice. but to accept that and go from there. There’s nothing I can do about it.
Absolutely. But you keep pushing every single day. And you mentioned that you got into education. And then so how did you get to becoming a professor at Stony Brook? Because you are teaching Arabic right?
Yeah, but nothing on this well known all over the world for language environment. like you talk to anybody in France, they talk to you back and talk to you Arabic. Those three, those are the three main languages. So when you don’t remember nine. especially with me, I want the French Catholic school. We got educated in France to speak Arabic.
That’s why Arabic is not nationality. So any language Yeah, what’s the water could say he’s an Arab. I said, Hold on. I gotta cover. Arabic is a language. I’m Lebanese, but I speak Arabic. Okay, so yeah, you correct them that way. They don’t really know. And because by the time I was in eighth grade, I start with English.
And by the time I graduated, call us. I mean, our school was already French, English and Arabic. Wow, three languages just flew out. And when the loved one to pick up, the recipes on your mind become like a sponge. And a lot of the English slang was the interest for a Russa New Relic from France so I could relate the way.
And then I took Spanish here and polish Spanish by the combination of the French and the English and Arabic. I want to like picked it up like that. It was so cool. Yeah. So I did that. And because of my love for languages, when I came to America. then after two years of surgery, I felt to my parents. This is we’re gonna stick with the plan. My mother said, What do you mean? I said, I’m going now to register.
I took my TOEFL exams for international students at tastic is the one down I applied. then I still remember I still have a tube. The first year I had a tube of my nose. I had some issues with surgery as like I don’t care what people say. if they stare at me I’m doing I went down for hours, I resisted either then. So I said, I talked to my advisor and said, we have a love for language. it will be good.
So I started French, and Spanish, which arrived in New France. but I was getting all A’s because I passed every exam. I knew it really well. A little bit less because it was new to me. And then I got my first bachelor degree. my second BACHELOR OF WATER public relation. because I love people. I love talking, I love writing. Wow, yeah, so I graduated with honour.
I got a job at Rhode Island Hospital, working as a data manager. because back then in the 80s, the economy was so bad around it before we could do something like that. I took what I could find. So I did that. And I was the founder of school. when I was a second, let me also be a translator. And so I did that. So I was kind of scraping in French and Arabic. or a lot of fishing from Canada from the lagoons.
So I worked there for a long time, my boss was so good to me. Dr. Weil, and again, he said, Margaret, you’re a good addition to our oncology department. If you have to go for surgery, it doesn’t matter how long how far we stay away your own. we’d love this year, take care of your house look like oh my god. he came to my wedding. Some bosses are amazing. Oh, yeah. Envelopes from other bosses. They’re not.
But this man was a good person. So I think I dealt with it. then 911 happened. And I was getting all these messages. I belong to a group of educator at one time. but I wasn’t really involved. I was reading about people, universities hiring Arabic profiles. and they didn’t have enough. I’m like, wait a minute, I contacted this group that I used to go to meeting.
And they go, yeah, there’s a bit new because I want that for my master’s degree. While working at the hospital. I got a master’s degree in foreign languages. as well as with Eastern culture and Middle Eastern Studies. And then before I was even done, everywhere I applied, I got hired. Yeah, so my first job was at Quincy College. Quincy, I taught French, Arabic and Spanish.
Wow, three languages. I taught for four years I was there. And I didn’t want to draft to conceive. And now it’s not that far. The position open. We call it was it’s come in April, I from here. I applied they took me right away said we’re desperate for an Arabic professor. So yeah, I taught there for about eight years.
And then we had a partnership was tonal day lighting. so much I know what happened was the one there were another open. like a stone had already sent three days at WWE, and it’s called Hill High two days. So I took that, and I was between the Stone Hill and Stone Hill heard how good I was away.
And so Maria occur and why not the provost, Provost back then, Assistant Provost. sent was thinking about joining in improved enrollment between the two schools. So I said like Morgan, would you do that? I said, Of course I would. So we did that with a partnership. So Scott had paid half of my salary, and we pay the other half.
And I got all the benefit, and I was making double the money. I was so happy and with it. then there was an issue with the transportation because we were holding class together. all kinds of stuff like that. And stone Hill enrollment was was really, really growing. So ended up we when we understand what’s going on. I became the Arabic director of the whole programme and then enrollment continue on from 2017 plus year. that’s how it all happened.
That’s amazing. Oh my god, what a journey, my goodness. And you have a love for linguistics, which I love. I
really, really do.
And I mean when it comes to all of these cultures. like because I know you know every culture has its own like story and that kind of thing. What’s like your favourite one or like a story that you would tell your students like all the time,
every opportunity thing you can think of to explore other people’s culture. whether it’s a study abroad, or however the friend from a different country, go for it. Don’t hesitate. Don’t say all but I’m not comfortable. Or don’t say, Oh, Jack, I don’t like that food. or I don’t like the way this person dressed.
I always say, just because you’re assume something you will do that much was stupid. if you assume but if you tell the person you’re with, about, hey, do enlighten me about your culture. I don’t need to know. Now we look, it’ll look down, we will smile. Because we are not just a scene. Yeah, you’ll find that out. And I tell him that all the time in my classes. and I say doesn’t lead to stupid if you if you didn’t know about that person.
Especially in a country where we hear on the news is are all negative. Even my own home? Country? I mean, my God, I forgot the love of my own husband. You will not the way people think of the Middle East. I was asked when I was in power. So first time, my mom was a fashion designer, I would always dress elegant.
I go in there and some of my colleague. secondly, you guys have done room tables and revenue from the floor. And then another person said in a dress up like that, and I said no better than I was like, wow. So Middle East, desert and cannibals have no clue. I mean, the woman is dressed up to kill anybody that knows.
And highly educated, but the average person doesn’t know how to smooth things on a news trouble or whatever. they hold on to that without letting other people tell them about their country. So I said to them, every opportunity we have to meet people from different cultures are gone. and pursue or do whatever they have to go for.
What Would Mona Older Self Tell her Younger Self
I love that Mona. This question is always my favourite is that I always leave it at the end. because it’s always the best for last. But now, what would your older self tell your younger self based on what you know now and your life experience?
Absolutely. I’ve learned that if you have a goal on life. don’t let anything happen to you destroy it. Don’t let anything because we know what was what’s a good willpower? And a good effort to make your dream come through the hours. Well, in my case, I was interrupted by surgery. You know, I’ve had events in my life that were unfair.
And this is unfair. You know, you get hurt because you’re a Christian. I mean, what have I done to you? I don’t know. You might, you know, come to my house assuming because we have a political agenda. These people are animals. They’re not even animals school time. That’s why I’m totally against open border.
I’m totally against assuming about people who don’t know who’s who. what’s in their heart and why they believe what they believe or. or what happened to them who are not in their shoes. I was trying to understand people and listen to their stories before I make an assumption. Absolute so important. No, absolutely. No. Oh, my gosh,
Mona, you’re so inspiring. And I want to thank you for sharing all of that in your life story. And just what you know, like you said. there’s been a lot of ups and there’s been a lot of downs and it’s been your journey. but you’ve helped so many people. you’ve opened so many eyes and you’ve affected so much change in so many people.
So I just want to thank you so much for being here today and sharing your story. So that’s it for today’s episode of underdog. Catch us next week, always dropping on Thursdays. And remember, if you’re interested in real estate. or want to learn how to create more money and magic in your life. check out meet with pamela.com and let’s chat. sending you so so much love.
Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with Mona Rowan. If you found this story worth your time and made changes in your life, we’d love to hear from you! Subscribe and leave a review. The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:
If you’re interested in elevating your life 10x, and owning your power, Pamela invites you to join her for a 15-minute call to set your goals straight and get clarity. Start building your game plan now: meetwithpamela.com