MMAF: Why did you sign up to be an alum mentor?
MR: The MSA has been a big part of my life, especially when I was there, navigating my way through campus through the lens of MSA was something I remember really fondly. Also, the connections I have made have helped me in other ways. When I went to Wisconsin [for law school], I met someone who helped out at MSA East Zone and she met a bunch of Michigan people, and she said if I had any questions I could just call her. It was nice to go to a completely random place and know someone with Michigan ties. Basically, MSA was just a huge part of my life, and I want to help promote Michigan Muslims. I have no money, but I can contribute my time instead. I want to pay it forward.
MMAF: How did your Big Sib, Rima Makhiawala, help you?
MR: When I first came as a freshman, I was very shy and kind of awkward around new people. I was living in the dorms, and I knew I wanted to be in the MSA because my sister told me it was like a family, but I didn’t know how to go about meeting people. Rima would always invite me to things and always had a smile on her face. She was the chair for Community Affairs, and I was really interested in volunteering, so it was the perfect way of doing something I really love and meeting new people.
MMAF: What was your experience like being a Big Sib?
MR: As a big sib, it was nice because I always wanted a younger sister. It’s just fun to have someone to show around. Basically I just love the whole MSA community. In college, I was like, “Oh MSA? Okay, I’m there.” I just wanted to be part of every single thing. Because I had such a great big sib, I wanted to pass on the energy that she had, and the friendship, and her welcoming attitude. I think it’s important for MSA to have that environment. Everything that Rima had passed on to me, I wanted to pass on to other people.
MMAF: What strengths were you able to impart to your Lil Sibs?
MR: Most of my lil sibs became my close friends. I tried to be really welcoming, and I think that’s the reason why we did become friends. We had similar values and senses of humor. Abeer was really into politics, so I suggested she get involved with the MSA political committee. The other thing I shared with my lil sibs was that MSA has something for everyone, but you don’t want your entire experience to be just the MSA. I also wanted to show my lil sibs that there are ways to be part of the MSA and be active, but have other things that are going on at the same time.
MMAF: How would have an alum mentor changed your college experience?
MR: [U-M MSA Alumni] are the people who had the same experiences you had as a student. When we are on campus we can lose sight of reality. They help you figure out what things are realistic to do after college and what you can do in school to get there. Networking is so big these days, especially in this economy. It’s really hard to figure out how to network, especially if you’re shy like I was. Having a Muslim mentor is really good. They can tell you how to navigate the rest of the world when you’re out of the Michigan bubble. That’s what I wish I had as a student, and students there now would be really lucky to have it.
MMAF: Now for a fun, random question. What was your most embarrassing/craziest memory from your time at U of M?
MR: I think it was spring semester when the Detroit Pistons won the championship. All of the girls were in one apartment, and we all watched together. Everyone was decked out in Pistons colors. Afterwards, we went outside and it was crazy. We sat in the back of a truck to go to Pizza House, and there were tons of people in the street who were yelling. Everyone was out celebrating, and it was probably one of my favorite memories.
Interview conducted by Mona's little sib, Mariem Qamruzzaman '09
Mona Rafeeq '06