Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in San Jose, CA, and my parents are from Bangladesh. My grandparents come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Iran. I served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army from 2009-2012. I was a freshman in high school when I woke up to the radio and heard about the first plane flying into the World Trade Center on 9/11. Moments later, I saw the second plane live on tv hit the WTC again at 6:03 am in California. The events that followed led me to feel a personal obligation to participate and do my part to serve the United States. I had a deep fascination with the military since early childhood, and I felt my calling to join the fight. A fun fact about me is that I love to listen to all genres of music, and I play several instruments. My acoustic bass and classical guitar are always within reach in my study.
What was your educational background prior to attending WSP, and which of our courses did you attend?
I did two years at a community college since my parents were frightened about me serving in the military after high school. They thought they could convince me to find another interest, but my heart was already sure about enlisting after the events of 9/11. In 2021, I attended the virtual humanities and STEM course at Texas A&M. This summer, I participated in the humanities and business & entrepreneurship course at Yale.
Why did you decide to participate in WSP this summer, and was there a shift in your confidence level from the first day of the course to the last day?
After being away from school for about 15 years, I wanted to utilize WSP before I became a full-time student in college again. I wanted to see what it felt like to be immersed in a top university and talk with professors and students there. I also could not wait to connect with the other veteran participants and hear about their stories that led them to WSP.
Since becoming a student again in the last year, I felt confident in being able to do what was asked. After arriving and being in the Yale atmosphere, I felt intimidated and unsure. However, the fellows and participants made me feel comfortable, and I was able to adapt quickly and let go of the imposter syndrome. My confidence level on the last day was very high. I participated in deep discussions on many topics and connected with my peers on many issues veterans face today. I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to interact with the amazing people behind WSP and those who finished the program before and alongside me.
What were some key insights you gained during your courses, and what is your biggest takeaway?
Some of my key insights include hearing and feeling everyone’s story about the path that led them to the military, higher education, and WSP. Being able to relate with them and hearing about their life experiences was a very special and unique experience. Building camaraderie while creating a business plan felt amazing. I also enjoyed the meals with the other participants and university professors in the beautiful dining halls. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. But, the most important thing I learned is to not self-select from pursuing education at specific institutions and to pursue my passions and listen to myself.
In one word, how would you describe your overall experience?