Today we feature student leader Fadi Khan (he/him) of Pleasantville, NJ (Atlantic County). Fadi is a senior Biological Sciences major and lives on campus in Holly Pointe Commons, where he is also a Community Assistant. A first-generation college student, Fadi shares with us his perspectives on life, his major, and getting the most out of his college experience.
What attracted you to biological sciences?
So basically when I grew up, I wanted to deal a lot with pediatrics. I love helping kids. And I always have [had] a love for the science field, so I just want to make sure I’m giving back to the youth and impacting the youth in any way I can.
Coming into the biological sciences field, I just felt as if I can use my intelligence and my expertise with kids, and just patience in general, just to help out the community. Overall, that was what attracted me to it — I just wanted to help.
Throughout my whole life, I’ve always been just helping in general. For example, it can go as far back as to my mom explaining how I used to take care of my youngest brother, ’cause I felt as if I had the same nurturing care that she had.
This past summer I was a PCI counselor, where I was in charge of programming and making fun events for kids to go to, and from there I was just a big role model for first year college students. I was just making sure to lead them down the right path, what classes to do, the do’s and don’ts of college. Overall, sharing the experiences with people that I couldn’t get to share with when I was younger.
Could you describe the PCI program that you participated in?
Yeah, so PCI, it’s the Pre-College Institute. It’s a partner with EOF where first year students can come in earlier than the set date when school starts, and they can basically get an advantage on taking classes, getting a feel for the campus and overall getting a first look into college and how it actually works.
I was in an internship alongside my other coworkers, and it was just a fun experience. And it was also a learning experience too, because as much as I help the [students] out, they help me out too in terms of just being better with people and how to interact better with college students, cause they are college students at the end of the day.
What are some of the student leadership roles that you’re active in?
One of my leadership roles that I’m in right now that I feel very strongly about is, I’m currently the Vice Polemarch of the Xi Gamma chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. here at Rowan University. Our motto is “achievement in every field of human endeavor” and with that being said, I definitely feel as if no matter what I do, no matter what I try to do, I very well try my best. Whether it’s academics or trying to have the best programs, or even trying to become the best CA.
Going into that actually, one other leadership role that I have is being a Community Assistant here at Holly Pointe Commons. I’ve been an active community assistant for the past two years and I’ve been loving it ever since. Like I said with the PCI job, it’s a lot of interactions, a lot of new people, a lot of new networking, and I get to learn more about myself and how I handle certain situations and how I can work on myself to become better at anything I do.
I also am part of NPHC — I’m currently the vice president, and we do a lot of activities on campus where we educate the community more about, like, the D9 and Black Greek organizations on campus and what we like to do and how we just like to help the community in our own different ways.
I was an active member in the NAACP — I was actually the fundraising chair. And we did a lot of community service and a lot of events with them. They’re still active on campus. Go to NAACP events, they’re amazing.
Could you describe your responsibilities as a community assistant?
As a community assistant I’m in charge of, basically, the facility, taking care of it. I’m also in charge of the residents. Not only the ones who live in my pod, but any of the residents. That being said, I really try to go out of my way to make sure everybody’s good. I’m always asking everybody how they’re doing, or how their day was, or if they need anything.
It’s basically just a big job where you have to not only look out for the residents, but you’re also with staff, you’re also with bosses. You’ve just got to uphold certain duties like creating bulletin boards, having one-on-one’s. Considering that you have to see your residents a lot, you have to make sure that those one-on-one’s are conducted very well.
There’s a lot that goes into the job, and with that being said, if you feel as if you have the passion for the job and you feel as if you know what you’re doing and you can do it in a sufficient way, then the job is for you. I personally feel as if the main duty, like the #1 priority thing that every CA should follow, is always take care of your residents. Always make sure that no matter what you’re doing and no matter what they’re doing that they are always the first priority. They are always the ones you’re taking accountability for, because at the end of the day, we wouldn’t be community assistants without that community. And the community is made up by residents, including me. So I have to take care of them as much as I have to take care of myself.
So you spend a lot of time making sure your residents, they’re feeling safe and comfortable?
Yeah, and just overall creating a sense of belonging because, to be honest, a lot of freshmen that are just coming to college don’t feel they can break out their shell just yet. It takes a while for people to get comfortable, and I feel as if I want my job to help them as much as I can. Like, what kind of resources do they want? What kind of food do they not like? What kind of professors or what kind of subjects are they more favored towards? It’s just creating a community where if they really need the help, and whenever they need the help in terms of guiding them through college, then we’re here.
I’m just an older peer that makes sure that I consider their feelings, and I always try to be the best for them. At the end of the day, no matter if I’m a community assistant or anything like that, I’m always a person that I feel as if they could turn to whenever they need something. Whenever they need help. Whenever they need someone to talk to. Whenever they need someone to listen, you know? It’s just a matter of being there, because not a lot of people have a support system in college. Not a lot of people know what they’re doing in college, but it’s okay, cause you’re not expected to know everybody. You’re not expected to know everything. That’s where we come in and we try to make sure that we create a sense of belonging for them.
Could you describe what it’s like being in a fraternity?
I love it. It’s a bond. It’s a brotherhood. It’s just love at the end of the day. I love helping people out. I’m a product of my environment, and I definitely feel as if my fraternity, they do the same thing. They always try to help me out, they always try to make sure I’m doing good. Likewise with them, it’s a reciprocated relationship almost, because whenever I feel like I need help or I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, they’re always just right there helping me out. And whenever they don’t know what they’re doing, they can always count on me.
I definitely feel as if it’s like a home away from home, it’s like my second family. I have no regrets nor do I have any wavering decisions in picking my fraternity, because I joined a fraternity not only for networking purposes, but I also wanted to become part of the brotherhood on campus so that I could become not only closer to the campus but also closer to the black community here. And I have definitely done that since I’ve joined.
From all of your roles, do you have one you most enjoy or feel helps you make the biggest impact?
It has to be a tie between my fraternity and me being a CA, because to be honest, those are two titles that I feel like I’m carrying around the most. Whether it’s me wearing my letters or me wearing my staff shirt, I’m always looked at as one of those two things.
And it’s a great feeling, because when I’m looked at like that, it makes me feel as if people are coming to me for help. People are coming to me for support.
Literally the other day, I went to Evergreen Elementary School and we were just wearing our letters, showcasing our frat and just making the kids know that, like, there are goods that come to college. That everybody should go to college. It was just a warm feeling, because it may not affect them now, it may not affect them in a month, but when they grow up and it’s time for them to go to college, they’re gonna think: “I remember that one Kappa that came into my school! He was very nice, he was very cool, he was a big leader and I want to be like that someday.” And that’s the effect that counts. That’s the thing that matters.
I definitely feel as if, like, when it comes to my fraternity, me impacting my community is probably one of the biggest things that I take away from it. And same thing with the Community Assistant, because I feel as if I try my best to uphold myself to a certain standard and make sure that the people around me or the residents that’s around me hold themselves to their own standard as well. Because they can’t really find true happiness or self-worth unless they dig down deep and know what makes them truly happy, know what makes them fully content with life. And if going to college and succeeding is doing that, then I’m gonna do everything in my power to do that and impact them in any way that I can.
Could you talk about the importance of those young kids hearing from Black perspectives?
As it is Black History Month right now, I definitely think Black history has an active and significant role that it plays in America. I think it’s warranted to pass that onto the youth and make sure that they’re educated on not only any kind of history, but Black history as well. I definitely think there’s a lot of good learning experiences you can [get] from Black history, cause at the end of the day, a lot of inventions, or a lot of significant things that we use on an everyday basis, were invented by Black people.
I definitely think that just going to the elementary school and making people realize the impact that African Americans have made throughout history is very important to not only me but my frat as well. We’re gonna continue to inspire every community that we can, because that’s what we’re here to do. It’s been going good, in terms of making sure that kids know there’s more to college than just schools and books — there’s opportunities, there’s gateways, there’s networking, there’s way more history you can learn. And Black history is one of the very topics you can learn here at Rowan University.
Why should students get involved in clubs and extracurriculars?
I think it’s easier said than done of course, but I definitely do [encourage] people to join any kind of club. There’s definitely a lot of unimaginable benefits from networking and making sure you know where you’re at or know the people you want to be successful with. At the end of the day, if you wanna be successful, be surrounded by those that wanna be too. Be surrounded by ones that want to live their best life. The ones that want to succeed.
Students should get involved with clubs because they don’t know what benefits they can get from the clubs. They don’t know what kind of lives they could affect themselves. I definitely see myself joining clubs and as much as the club would help me out, I’m impacting that club as well. I’m making sure that I’m networking with people outside of that club to inform them about that club. And the more you do that, the more clubs you’re going to join, the more people you will meet, the more opportunities you will get, the more opportunities you will give.
And with that being said, it’s just a give and take when it comes to joining clubs, because you’ll learn more about yourself. You might find out that joining clubs is your new best hobby, you want to join every club, but how would you ever know that if you’ve never joined one club?
Even if you feel as if you can’t be comfortable in joining clubs or, like, being the President or being the Vice President or active roles like that, participate. Any little thing matters. And any little thing can make you start, because you don’t have to take a big bite out of a club to join it. As long as you make that little effort, the effect will come no matter what.
A lot of people get intimidated by clubs and the work they have to put in and all that, but if you really want to join the club, and if you really want to see that club succeed, do what you can and I promise you, you’ll find the best effects from it.
Yeah, I definitely feel as if clubs are not only a one way street, it’s a two way street for sure. Because there’s so many opportunities it may give you, [and] you can give a lot of opportunities to the clubs as well.
How has being a student leader impacted you personally, as well as your career?
To be honest, I definitely feel way more comfortable with person-to-person interactions. I definitely feel as if I was not the most social person my freshman year — like, who is? But now I’ve come to the point where I’m very comfortable not only with the campus but with the clubs, the org’s, the people, with anybody. And it’s good, because it just arises new confidence. It arises new opportunities. And it makes me feel as if, like, whatever I’m doing right now, I may not fully know what I’m doing, but I’m in the right direction. I’m making sure that I’m taking the right steps, the right protocols.
Joining these clubs and me becoming a student leader is really something that I’ve always wanted to be, and I really can’t believe that I am one right now but … the proof is in the pudding! I just love the impact I’m making, and I just can’t wait to make more of an impact. This is only the beginning for me to be honest.
Could you describe the importance of Rowan’s NAACP chapter and supporting Black college students?
Yeah, I definitely think that club is a good club in terms of supporting the Black community. During any kind of time, supporting the Black community is very essential. Even if it’s something as little as going to a community where they need some hygiene products — that’s their next event, actually — something as little as that is a very big effect, because not only are they helping out their own community, but they’re making sure that NAACP lives up to their standard. They’re making sure that anybody, whether African American or Caucasian or anything like that, that they’re good in that community and that they’re making sure that it’s being used to its fullest extent.
At the end of the day, there just can’t be one community with one people – everybody in the community needs to be all together. That’s what I think NAACP tries to do.
Do you feel that you’ve grown a lot as a person while at Rowan?
Yes. I’m currently a senior, and I see growth in every year that I have been. And this year has honestly been the most growth. I feel like I carry myself a little bit better, I talk a little bit better. I’m also way more involved on campus, and I just feel as if I’m always advancing in any kind of way. A lot of people have, like, a New Year’s motto or something like that — I have an everyday motto, and my motto goes: “Be better than you yesterday.” You feel me? It’s always making sure that even if you’re better at something, or making sure you’re just leaving off the day with a positive remark about yourself. Oh, I turned in my assignments earlier. I got on class time earlier. I used more efficient time in the shower. I talked to more of my community. I talked to more of my residents. I talked to more of my fraternity brothers. I talked to more of my bosses.
Any kind of advancement in life is always what I’m trying to look for, and I definitely think that hunger, that eagerness to always try to be better is what’s keeping me alive and making me a strong student leader day by day.
I definitely see myself as my personal priority, because I really want to help people when I grow up. But to be honest, how good would I help people if I don’t worry about how I’m [doing]? I’ve got to make sure I’m good enough to help myself first, and then from there I’ll go on to more people. Because at the end of the day, you just can’t expect to help people if you can’t help yourself. So that’s why you always gotta make sure that you be better than yourself yesterday.
Do you feel that the friends you’ve made while at Rowan have contributed a lot to your personal growth?
Yes, can I give some shout-outs? I would like to shout out Lemar Danvers and Wakeel Olawore. I would also like to shout out some of my fraternity bros: Justice Davis, Amir Bond-Little, Ryjhir Taylor, Larry Mensah, Devon Wooding. Everyone that I just named are very big factors in my life in terms of being here at Rowan. And everyday, they just communicate with me on how I can become better and how I can just honestly affect the community more than I already am.
And that’s the love that I think every student should look for at Rowan. People that genuinely care about you, people that genuinely wanna make sure that you get better at anything you do, no matter what it costs them. If you wanna see people succeed, or you wanna see yourself succeed, those are the kind of people you gotta surround yourself with. Because at the end of the day, if they really are your friend, if they really are the people that wanna make a good impact on you, then they will look for the best for you in any kind of way of any given time.
I’d also like to give another shout-out to my Dean, Kavon Johnson. He’s actually been a very big leader for myself. He’s somebody that I just look up towards too because he has won multiple awards, he has been in blogs, he has done whatever he has had to do to maintain his name, and I wanna do the same thing. Because at the end of the day, I just wanna succeed. And the friends that I’m around, the brothers, the family that I’m around is something that makes me wanna succeed just as much.
Have you had any mentors here at Rowan?
There’s a couple. First and foremost, one of my biggest mentors in life is my mom. She is very strong, she is very compassionate … she’s very cool. I wanna be like her one day, cause I feel like I can talk to my mom about anything, and I want people to feel like that towards me. That’s definitely one person that I’m forever indebted to, y’know? She’s been a very big help for me, and I just wanna do the same thing for other people.
Going back to on-campus, a couple mentors that stick out to me: Khalil Bailey. He was here a couple years ago. He graduated, but while he was here, he definitely had a big impact in terms of me joining my fraternity or me joining other clubs [and] just me being myself in any kind of given time. Because at the end of the day, I can still be a leader, I can still be fun, I can still be energetic, I can still be wise, but if I’m not true to myself, then who am I really being truthful to? He taught me that as long as you be yourself and you wanna do what you wanna do in the purest form, then do it. But don’t try to get in the way of other people’s happiness, cause that’s only gonna mess you up.
Another leader that I wanna refer back to is my Dean, Kavon Johnson. He’s just someone I look up to because he holds himself to a high standard and I do the same thing. He’s just always trying to make sure that he’s helping anybody out, everybody the best way he can, and I definitely do the same thing. Even if it’s in different ways, I still take life lessons and experiences from him and use them in my everyday life.
Have there been any specific classes or professors that you feel significantly contributed to your personal development?
One professor that comes to mind instantly is Professor Lisa Blaney — she was my College Composition I and II teacher. She definitely not only taught me about the importance of writing and actually putting your thoughts onto paper, but she taught me … it’s OK. Like, no matter what. You fail a test, you fail an exam, you don’t get in the club you want to get in, you don’t win an election you ran for … it’s OK. Try again. Make sure that no matter how many times you fall down, you get back up. Cause, it’s easy to fall down. It’s easy to leave. But it’s ten times harder to come back and do the same thing. And she definitely taught me to be resilient and just, overall, know what you’re doing. And even if you don’t, try your best. Cause that’s all you can do. Your best effort is your best foot forward.
If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing before starting at Rowan, what would it be?
Be yourself. Be comfortable. Never be afraid to get out of your shell or talk to new people or join new clubs, cause at the end of the day, the only thing that’s holding you back is you. So do what you wanna do. If I’m talking to myself, I’d realistically tell him, hey, like, Fadi … you may not have all the answers now, you may not know what you’re doing, but you’re here now. So do what you gotta do, and if you need help, the help will be there. But just realize, it’s your life. And if you want to have a good life, live the life you want.
Do you want to put anything out there on achieving your goals?
In the face of doubt, one should always look forward to their goals or just stay on track with their obligations, just cause … there’s no limit. Whatever goal you have, your end goal, there’s always some way you can surpass that in any kind of way. And I would just like to emphasize the fact that, like, no matter what you do, no matter how many breaks you take or no matter how many goals you can achieve, there’s always more. And there’s always more. not only to your potential, but to your knowledge and just the people you can affect.
I’ve come to realize, the sky’s the limit. But you’ve gotta determine how high the sky is. Another piece of advice that I’d like to give out there for people is: ask questions. You’ve probably been hearing that since you were in kindergarten. But realistically, asking questions is the first thing to do whenever you wanna do something good. Or whenever you wanna do something in the first place. And actions speak louder than words, but asking will get you way more ahead than anything, cause that’s where you can start off even if you don’t feel the most comfortable in any kind of setting. Just do it —it really is easier said than done, but I can guarantee you the moment you can dip your toe into the water you’ll be swimming.
Any advice for current college students trying to find themselves and their people?
Yes, I would definitely tell them to be comfortable. Like I said before, It’s easier said than done when it comes to joining clubs or anything like that, but as long as you have some kind of impact that you want to make or something that you wanna do and take those baby steps, even if it’s the tiniest steps you can think of, do it. Cause at the end of the day, nothing’s gonna hurt you except yourself. And I definitely feel like a lot of people get intimidated by how big college is or the classes.
Another piece of advice I would give them is do not get intimidated, but just find out more. Pique your curiosity. Because at the end of the day, the questions you may have are the questions that are not answered.
Do you feel it’s important for students to develop relationships with their professors?
I think people should develop relationships with anybody they meet. Everyday you’re gonna meet somebody new, and with those different interactions you’re just gonna meet different opportunities and just different things in the first place. I think it’s always good to have your best hand forward and to always make sure you’re optimistic about the people you meet. And definitely, always think about not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. How you can help your own community. How you can help the people that you interact with.
It’s not always about what people can do for you. I definitely feel as if when you can share your capabilities and abilities with others, it makes you feel as if you’re accomplishing your own goals at the same time. So meet new people, even if you don’t feel comfortable. You can’t learn and be comfortable without getting uncomfortable first.
That’s a great mentality. So, thinking a lot about not only your own goals, but how your goals can satisfy everyone’s needs?
Yeah, definitely. And I think, with that mentality, it just goes to show no matter what you do, If you feel strongly about something, it’s gonna get done. You’ve gotta put the work in. And the work is gonna come sooner or later, but you just can’t waver. You’ve got to stay true to not only yourself but your obligations and your goals. I’m helping people now, but I’m gonna help people more as time goes on.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
A couple messages I wanna lastly say: I love my family. I love my fraternity. And most importantly, I love myself. [laughs].
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