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Faith as a Foundation

How the people of Swarthmore encouraged me to get back up after falling

I attended public schools in Upper Darby and Philadelphia all my life. 

Swarthmore was my first opportunity to study on campus with peers from all over the world.

It was also the first time I had the privilege to explore many disciplines that had been inaccessible to me. All of this, though exciting and eye-opening, was a challenge by every measure. 

When I failed my very first college exam, I felt incompetent and alone. When I had to leave my a cappella group to focus on my studies, I wished I attended some other school that was not as rigorous. 

But here’s the thing: After I failed that exam, Associate Professor of Biology Brad Davidson ’90 dedicated hours of his time to help me prepare for the second one. And after leaving the a cappella group, I was invited to sing with them at Discover Swarthmore during my sophomore year. 

Through the hardships, I was able to find the merits of this unique educational experience — and there are many.

My time at the College was special because of the people in it. Without a friend like Reham Mahgoub ’20, who tutored me in organic chemistry, I probably would’ve given up on the pre-med track during my sophomore year. 

Without research mentors like professors Ben Geller ’01 and Catherine Crouch, I wouldn’t have been able to bounce back from a grueling research presentation experience.

Without my Richard Rubin Scholar mentor, Professor Lisa Smulyan ’76, I wouldn’t have been able to land an externship in Nashville, Tenn., and get on my first solo flight ever. 

Without my team at the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, I wouldn’t have become so passionate about promoting social good. Without my dear Muslim Student Association (MSA), I wouldn’t have felt at home. 

And because of this incredible community, I found my passion in teaching and mentorship. 

At Swarthmore, I went from tutee to tutor, resident to resident assistant, and MSA member to MSA president. This education has truly transformed me. Once I realized it, my focus became ensuring that others experienced growth, too. 

I hope I was successful with those whom I had the privilege to befriend, advise, and tutor. But even if not, that’s what my life after Swarthmore is meant to be.