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ASU grad thankful for opportunities to study abroad, discover support system

Fajr Ahmad is graduating with a bachelor's degree in communication this fall and will represent the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication as its fall 2023 Dean's Medalists. While at ASU, she took part in study abroad in London, Dublin and Edinburgh, Scotland, studying intercultural communication and spent a semester in Canada with the Fulbright Canada-Mitacs Globalink Research Internship, studying the political perceptions of local communities. Photo by Meghan Finnerty/ASU

December 01, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.

New York native Fajr Ahmad transferred to Arizona State University, searching for connection and a gateway to her future.

For the Barrett, The Honors College student, ASU’s welcoming atmosphere and professors were precisely that.

“College is not a do-it-yourself moment, and ASU made sure that didn’t happen to me,” she said. “It’s all I wanted for my college experience and more.”

This fall, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication and represent the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication as its Dean’s Medalist.

While at ASU, Ahmad studied abroad in London, Dublin and Edinburgh, Scotland, with 23 other communication students, learning about the history of the countries through intercultural communication.

Ahmad was also involved in Fulbright scholars, spending a semester in Alberta, Canada, with the Fulbright Canada-Mitacs Globalink Research Internship, studying the political perceptions of local communities.

“Both experiences were great for me. The chance to get hands-on research experience and get wrapped up in different cultures was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” Ahmad said. “I learned how to develop my research skills, how to understand the ever-changing political climate of Alberta — and overall was nothing short of a brilliant experience.”

She spent her time giving back to other students as a mentor in the Barrett Mentoring Program. There, she provided support, resources and guidance to other undergraduate students pursuing their passions in the social sciences.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I’ve always been interested in sociology and psychology, like why people think a certain way or why certain relationships play out a certain way. For a second, I thought about doing one of those two fields, but then I went to my communication class and knew this path was what I had been looking for. It perfectly balanced theory and hands-on research, which perfectly summed up what I needed as a student.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I am a little bit more of a natural introvert, but diving into my major and being around my classmates and friends taught me that it is OK to step outside of my comfort zone

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I was looking for a community of support, which I didn’t get at my old university. It was a huge necessity for me to get the education I wanted for myself and, at the same time, feel connected to the place, people, classes and professors. It all came together from the start at ASU. The support was immediate, the excitement was there and passion for my studies followed.

Q: What professors taught you the most important lessons or made the most significant impact while in school?

A: George Bryant helped me in so many ways. He helped polish or refine my research skills, supported me in honors courses and is on my honors thesis committee. Belle Edson also has to be one of my most incredible supporters. She’s recommended me for so many opportunities. She’s always reaching out. She’s also on my honors thesis committee.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Pick quality over quantity. When it comes to courses, don’t overload yourself with a bunch of courses. At the same time, always keep an open mind because you never know what class, professor or project will come your way and potentially change your perspective.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The Memorial Union was always a go-to place for many things. They would host vintage clothing or used book sales, and I’d always come home with 20 books for $20. Another spot was the study rooms in Hayden Library. It’s a perfect spot to study by yourself or with friends.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Apply to graduate programs. I’ve submitted a couple of applications and — knock on wood — I’ll get into one of them. Overall, though, I hope to impact K–12 education policy. I feel elementary education can sometimes get overlooked, and I want to make a difference in that area, whatever way that is.

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