By Samantha Storms, ’17
Susan and Thomas are constantly reminded that they shouldn’t be together according to their cultures. Born to an Egyptian father and a Turkish mother Susan learned not to attract people from outside the Muslim community, unless it was platonic. Thomas is first-generation Polish and growing up in Bayonne everyone around him was either Italian or Irish. “There was nobody who was Eastern European,” said Thomas.
According to Pew Research, about 16 percent of Muslims who are married or living with someone have a non-Muslim spouse or partner. Muslims intermarry more than Hindus and Mormons, but it is still a relatively low number. Jewish people who have been married since 2000, nearly six-in-ten have a non-Jewish spouse, according to the same research.
Thomas and Susan met at Saint Peter’s University where Susan majored in Political Science and Thomas majored in History.
“My freshman year I met Tomic [Thomas] and he gave me the courage to really identify with who I am,” said Susan. “He helped me understand that my parents can’t dictate my life.”
Thomas and Susan were inseparable and then there was a life-changing moment that put their relationship to the test. Almost two years into their relationship Susan was in an accident that left her in wheelchair for three months. Thomas used to carry Susan to and from class, almost guaranteeing he was going to be late for class.
Her family didn’t take care of her during the recovery and told her it was her own fault. She was left to take care of herself.
“When that accident happened it was the worse thing that I have experienced,” said Thomas. “Just seeing her in so much pain, it was the worst experience.”
After the accident, Susan was already estranged from her family, partially due to her relationship with Thomas. “My family wasn’t fond of me and pretty much told me it was my fault,” said Susan. “I think I kind of grew up knowing they weren’t going to accept me and I’m so much happier.”