Episode 3: Tehniat Cheema


"Be okay with the person you are."

Tehniat Cheema, Principal, Loma Verde Elementary, on being a trail blazer who follows her beliefs and challenges cultural norms

“What do you want to be when you grow up”?  This is a typical question that gets asked of many children. What if your parents already filled in the blank for you?  As Asian women, often times our careers are predetermined by our parents, who have a lot of say in the majors we study and the professions we choose. For most Asian women, the title of MD is already conjured up in parent’s minds, and with it comes the endless list of all the activities that need to be followed to achieve that life mission.
Tehniat Cheema defied this norm and chose a different path, one that is not sought out by Asian parents, but one that is just as noble. Tehniat is a trail blazer in her community who stands up for her beliefs and challenges cultural norms. Through her work, she is sowing the seeds for a confident and empathetic future generation.   
Tehniat is as authentic as it gets! What a wonderful role model for not just young girls, but for anyone seeking to fulfill their passion! 

Podcast Details

Find out from the podcast how Tehniat:

  • Lived in two different continents and the impact it had on her identity
  • Had secret conversations with her friends in college and the “news” she had to break to her parents
  • Was referred as someone who “changed diapers” in her current career
  • Has to make an extra effort to teach girls to raise their hands
  • Challenged societal post maternity guilt and how she learned to prioritize quality over quantity
  • Believes in playing on your strengths is important and finds the courage to let “it” go

About Tehniat

Tehniat T. Cheema is Principal of Loma Verde Elementary School in Novato, California. Tehniat serves as the administrator of a school of almost 400 students – nearly half of whom receive free or reduced meals. At 32 years old, Tehniat is the youngest Principal in Novato Unified School District. Prior to being named Principal in June 2015, Tehniat spent a decade teaching different grades at Loma Verde, including first, second, fourth, and fifth grade. Throughout her career, Tehniat has drawn from her own experience as an immigrant and non-native English speaker to serve Loma Verde’s diverse student population, which includes a large English Learner population. Tehniat has a Master of Arts and Administrative Credential from San Francisco State University, a Masters of Arts in Education and Teaching Credential from the University of California, Davis, and undergraduate degrees in Molecular Cell Biology and Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Tehniat's passion for helping children unlock and achieve their potential began her junior year at UC Berkeley when she was a museum docent at the Hall of Health, a children's museum in Berkeley. Tehniat lives in Novato, California, with her husband and 16-month old son. She is an avid supporter of Cal -- Go Bears!