30 Days/30 Scholarships: Q&A with 2013 Valedictorian Asif Majid

Majid,AsifWhen students have the scholarship support they need, they can do AMAZING things. And during the month of June, we’re working hard to help students do just that — make the most of their time at UMBC, and change the world for the better, with the aid of scholarships. Our aim? To raise enough money to award 30 scholarships of $1,000. It’s a big goal, but you can help us reach it, and when you do, you’ll be helping students in need.

Today we’re featuring 2013 valedictorian and scholarship recipient Asif Majid ’13, interdisciplinary studies, who this fall is bound for Georgetown University to study conflict resolution. While at UMBC, Asif (a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar) not only wrote a play about Moroccan social justice issues while studying abroad in Morocco, he also participated in Model UN and served as a hand drummer in UMBC’s improvisational world music band and principal timpanist for the UMBC Symphony Orchestra.

Q: What did it mean to you and your family to be able to rely on scholarship support during your time at UMBC?

A:  Coming out of high school, one of my main considerations in choosing a university to attend was financial.  Simultaneously, I was concerned with having a sense of community, as close-knit as possible, while at UMBC.  As a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar, the financial support that I received from the program and the community support I received from my fellow scholars were essential parts of my UMBC experience.

Q:  Why did you choose UMBC?

A:  Rather than me choosing UMBC, I think that UMBC chose me.  Before and during my high school years, my father taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department, my sister was a Meyerhoff Scholar and Interdisciplinary Studies major, and my mother volunteered with the Meyerhoff Parents’ Association.  UMBC has been a constant presence in my life, and it seemed a natural fit when it came time to choose an undergraduate institution.  Receiving financial support from the school only sweetened the deal.

Q:  We know that students who receive the support they need can do amazing things at UMBC. What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at UMBC?

A:  Though UMBC has afforded me many opportunities and given me support to be successful in many arenas, I would say that I am most humbled and honored to have achieved excellence within the Interdisciplinary Studies Department (INDS).  Designing my own major, conducting independent research through my capstone and social justice theatre project, integrating a study abroad experience into my undergraduate career, and making history as the first valedictorian from INDS are simply my way of saying thank you to the exceptional department that has been my home for the past four years.

Q:  How did it feel to be able to address your classmates as valedictorian?

A:  It is an impossible task to speak for anyone else, let alone to represent the experiences of thousands of students at a university as diverse as UMBC.  Holding fast to the idea that any good valedictory address is not about the valedictorian but about the graduates as a whole, I chose to speak in terms of ideas and principles such as risk-taking and remembering our origins.  Each graduate has a unique experience that is theirs alone, and I wanted to acknowledge that journey.

Q:  I understand you’re planning on studying conflict resolution at Georgetown. Where do you hope your studies take you?

A:  I feel that my life lines up alongside the motto of The Honors College: “Learning for Living.”  Infused with such an idea after my time at UMBC, I aim for my studies to propel me in the direction of being a conflict transformation scholar-practitioner.  This will involve working in the intersections of the performing arts, experiential education, conflict transformation, and humanitarian emergencies while also thinking, teaching, and writing about how to improve the conditions of others in conflict zones.  For me, the convergence of learning and living is an exciting interstitial space that I believe will characterize my future.

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