By Shanawaj (Roy) Khair, APIASF/GMS Scholar
My cousin threw me a celebratory dinner for successfully graduating from high school. At one point during dinner, he told me, “Nobody goes through college alone. Make sure you have a support group to go through your ups and downs.” This made me reflect on my high school experiences. I remembered all the moments I reached out to my friends and teachers because I was stressed or was having a bad day. It made me feel better after I talked to them because I was part of a community. To be honest, I could not have gotten this far without them. Being part of a community or a network is an integral part of the college experience. I have a very particular interest in community building and networking because scientific research, my career interest, involves such skills. This allows scientists to exchange ideas and improve each other’s work.
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) allows us to have the opportunity to network. So, when the APIASF blog team announced this #repConnections interview project, I was very excited. I really wanted to get to know my fellow GMS and APIASF Scholars and hear stories of their path to success. I believe everybody has a story to tell. These stories allows us to understand different perspectives and be wiser.
I had the opportunity to get to know Iyleen Ismail. Iyleen is an APIASF Scholar from class of 2006. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Asian Studies from University of Redlands in California. Iyleen chose to do her undergraduate studies in sociology because she became concerned with racial and gender inequality, and social policies concerning children and youth in families. This inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in this area. Wishing for a change in scenery, she pursued and received her master’s degree in Public Policy, Social Policy/Children, Youth and Families at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management in Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts. Currently, she works at Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong, a state-wide advocacy organization for people with cognitive and development disabilities. She enjoys her work very much as she works to improve rights for people with intellectual disabilities. I found that very admirable about her. Very often, society mistakenly neglects rights of people with disabilities, and I am very glad that we have intellectuals such as Iyleen on our side.