This week, we’re checking in with LEDA Cohort 15 Scholar Hassan at Columbia University, as he adjusts to being on campus this fall and remote learning. Over the summer, Hassan spent his time interning at his county’s Economic Development Office, where he had in-depth exposure to the economic expansion and development taking place in Florida. His internship focused on data collection and organization from sources like JobsEQ, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Florida Bureau of Business and Economic Research. When he wasn’t organizing data, he was working with the UnTextbooked podcast to feature youth voices in history. Alongside working with the social media and marketing teams, he produced a podcast episode in which he interviewed John Newsinger, the author of The Blood Never Dried, to discuss the horrific implications of British colonialism and how post-colonialism can repair the damages.
The pandemic has been really tough on Hassan, but LEDA’s support has helped guide him through it. When speculations originally began to arise about having a virtual fall semester, Hassan was not happy and was planning on taking a gap year as he wasn’t entirely confident about remote learning. “My LEDA counselors helped me consider my options and advised me on how I can still strive for a strong college experience post-matriculation. Once I arrived on campus, LEDA gave me a peer mentor to help me transition over the course of my freshman year. And amid the entire pandemic, LEDA gave me the best community – my Cohort – to share my hopes and fears with.”
Currently, he is taking online classes on campus at Columbia, which he does not particularly enjoy. He feels like online classes keep him from actively participating in the class, as it is easy to get distracted. Because this is a non-traditional semester and Hassan’s first time away from home for this long, he’s having a hard time staying motivated. “It’s not that I’m not doing work – it’s that I’m taking too long to do it. So, I’m currently balancing strategies that have revitalized my motivation successfully.” Hassan has found that taking breaks from his homework and going out to explore New York City with friends at night has helped him manage his stress while on campus this fall.
Despite how tough this year has been, Hassan remains positive and is looking forward to next summer. He plans on securing a position with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and an Analysis Internship Program in D.C. “While I don’t see myself working entirely in domestic security, I look forward to the intelligence portion of the experience so that I can better plan out my career goals.”
As Hassan reflects on both the pandemic and the current racial justice movement, he shares that for many students like himself, college, and America is a generationally unfamiliar environment. “I’d like to see more community building sessions that serve the role of shared spaces where we can come to talk about and receive support for our worries. These spaces can double as avenues where we share with one another specific resources to address our fears – whether they are academic, financial, psychological, etc.” Hassan also thinks that colleges should play an active role in recognizing the unique challenges their students are facing. Not all students can give 100% to the class consistently over the semester, so flexible attendance policies, Zoom recordings, and relaxed due dates can relieve some of the worries of those students facing special circumstances.
Looking back at the Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute he attended in 2019 at Princeton University, he reflects on the strong community of FGLI Scholars, counselors, and mentors with who took the time to understand his challenges and supported him through them. “LEDA provides Scholars with substantial academic and professional support, including career readiness, internships, fellowships, and other opportunities. And, the best part is that you will navigate all of these resources with the LEDA Scholars on your campus and your greater LEDA Scholar community. That means, regardless of where you go, you’ll always have a friend to support you!”
Stay tuned for more in the upcoming weeks on how LEDA Scholars are adapting to the “new normal” of going to school this year.
Published October 28, 2020