A Sort of Homecoming
Suhaib Jawad, Junior Government and Politics Major, Metropolitan Campus
By Kenna Caprio
After a few years of dormancy, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the Metropolitan Campus relaunched in early 2022, revitalized under the leadership of its President Mariam Alhaddad, a senior biology major; Vice President Suhaib Jawad, a junior government and politics major; and other members of the executive board.
“We needed to restart this organization because there are a lot of Muslim students on campus who want to come to events, sit down, talk to like-minded individuals and share their stories and struggles,” says Jawad.
He credits the reinvigorated club with being “instrumental in me finding my friends and my people at FDU.” Come to MSA events — guests of all faiths are welcome — and enjoy henna nights, Ramadan get-togethers, trivia competitions or movie nights, he says.
“One of the things I heard at orientation is, ‘College is what you make of it.’ That stuck with me. I still think about it,” says Jawad.
It’s led him to seek an active role in campus life — he’s part of the Student Government Association, a member of Global Scholars and a representative on its steering committee, an honors student and a former orientation leader.
In a defining moment, he also delivered a speech to 300 or so parents and future students at an Admitted Students Day event.
“I made them close their eyes and imagine starting afresh and moving to a new place, alone. Going to college can be daunting. So, I wanted them to imagine how they’d handle navigating that hurdle, making new friends and starting school,” Jawad says.
For Jawad, attending FDU is a homecoming. Born in Hackensack, N.J., he lived in Bergen County until age 7, when his family moved back to Pakistan. He returned to America for high school and decided to stay for college, too. As a man with two home countries, “Global Scholars should advertise me more,” he jokes.
He’s embracing every opportunity the Global Scholars and Honors programs bring — including participating in the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs, held annually at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in 2022.
Samuel Raphalides, professor of political science and history and director of the Global Scholars Program at the Metropolitan Campus, nominated Jawad to go. “It was a wonderful experience, living with the cadets and attending the conference and talking with peers about public health and how to navigate the next pandemic, if and when it happens,” Jawad says.
Making these connections — networking with students and industry leaders and engaging in impactful conversation with faculty members — has deepened and broadened Jawad’s educational experience.
“Since my first semester, I’ve been able to take classes within my major. That’s something I really like about FDU. As a result, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to go to law school. I want to work in public policy to affect lives and to support minorities,” he says. He’s considered careers in building diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility; promoting sustainability and environmental justice; and focusing on Middle Eastern affairs, international relations or economics.
That drive to make things better for everyone also keeps him devoted to building campus community.
“I always want to push the needle forward a little bit, to make the next students who come to FDU feel comfortable and safe here. I want them to find their place, just like I did,” Jawad says.
MAN OF FAITH
“I’m very spiritual and religious. I try to pray five times a day. One of the core values of the Muslim Student Association is to debunk myths and clear up misconceptions about the religion. And to be a resource so people can learn more about Islam.”
TRAVEL BUCKET LIST
“I want to see the Northern Lights and experience that phenomenon in person. Muslims are expected to do a pilgrimage to Mecca, [in Saudi Arabia], if they can. I’d love to do that. And my mom, my grandmother and I want to go toTurkey together.”
MEETING MEANINGFUL MENTORS
Samuel Raphalides, professor of political science and history and director of the Global Scholars Program at the Metropolitan Campus; Michael Cotto, assistant professor of English; and Maurice Krochmal, adjunct faculty member