January 20, 2014

 msa_alumni_logo2Newsletter – Winter 2014

In this Newsletter:
1. Alumni Spotlight
2. Upcoming Events (NYC, Philly, DC, Chicago, San Francisco)
3. Penn MSA Mentorship Program
4. Committee Updates

Alumni Spotlight: Naiel Iqbal (W ’06)


After graduating from Penn in 2006, I moved to New York (shocking, I know), eager to start my career in finance (another shocker).  Along the way, I got deeply involved in a few causes, stayed close to friends from Penn, and became obsessed with all the restaurants, energy and opportunities the city has to offer.

Shortly after starting work at an investment bank, I was approached by a couple friends who were starting a new Muslim networking and mentoring organization, Muppies (muppies.org).  After growing up in Dallas, which has a large, but unorganized Muslim population, I was instantly attracted to a nonprofit focused on helping to organize and connect this group.

I worked with them to design a new website and became increasingly involved with the organization.  I have served as an Executive Board member for over five years, and also serve as the President of the NYC Chapter.  It has been an incredibly rewarding and empowering position, but we still have much to do!  I moved to a hedge fund a few years ago and have enjoyed helping others find mentorship and a path for their career.

I have also remained very close to Penn.  In addition to serving on the fundraising committee for my five-year reunion, and the SPADE committee for the Penn MSA,  I worked with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to create a Middle East focused committee for the Penn Alumni Virtual Interview Program.  The committee, which I chair, has grown rapidly and serves as an important conduit between Penn and the multitude of applicants from the Middle East and South Asia.  Committee members serve as both interviewers and ambassadors for Penn.  We use Skype and Google Hangouts to connect with applicants and inform the admissions office of our impressions of them — a key input in the admissions process.  Given the great interest in Penn from the region, we are actively recruiting new members and encourage all Penn alum’s to get involved!  Please see more details below and get in touch soon.

I’ve planted roots in New York; I married Rabia Aslam last summer (pictured above), a Cornellian and fellow finance geek.  We both believe in the power of networks and common bonds, such as the Penn MSA, and stay committed to helping organizations like this grow.  We have met up with many alums on our travels around the world.  I hope everyone will get involved to benefit from others’ experience, and also pay the favor forward.

I would like to invite you to join the Penn Alumni Interview Program (and specifically the Middle East Virtual Committee) as we help Penn identify uniquely talented students and speak with them about our alma mater. In doing so, you will be helping to shape the lives of future Penn students, while staying informed about programs and events taking place back on Penn’s campus.

While many of our applicants are able to visit campus, many more are not. The Alumni Interview Program is an opportunity to inform students about Penn, while providing Penn Admissions with better information about prospective students.  Many students claim that their alumni interview strongly influenced their decision to attend the University of Pennsylvania, and I would love for you to be a part of that experience. You can conduct one or many interviews.

In joining the Virtual Committee for the Middle East, where a large percentage of applicants are Muslim, you would enjoy the flexibility
of scheduling video-conference interviews, as well as the ability to connect with applicants from their hometown or country.

You can sign up online at: http://www.alumni.upenn.edu/interviews/.   Please feel free to contact me at naiel@alumni.upenn.edu if you have any questions.

**Important: In order to participate in a Virtual Interview committee, please select the Middle East Virtual Committee in the Committee “Search” link provided on the registration form; you should also write your Virtual Committee location preference in the “Comments” section of the registration

Upcoming MSA Alumni Events

There will be a number of social events for Penn Alums across the US; if you are interested, please contact the representatives for each location.

New York: Sunday, February 16 (Dara Elass – dmelass@gmail.com)
San Francisco: Saturday, February 1 (Mak Hussain – hussainm530@gmail.com). Please fill out this survey if you are interested in joining.
Philadelphia: Friday, February 14 (Faizan Khan – faizan2012@gmail.com)
Washington, DC: Date TBD (Zohaib Mohammad – moh.zohaib@gmail.com)
Chicago: Date TBD (Ali Akbar – aliakbar2@gmail.com)
Boston: The MSA Alums in Boston went bowling recently! Below is a picture from the event:

pman boston bowling event

Mentoring program with Penn MSA!

Salam all! We are looking for alums to volunteer a little time getting to know and mentoring current Penn undergraduate students through email/phone/Skype. At the moment, we have 15 mentees across all 4 years who have already signed up for this program. Ideally, we’d love to pair alums with just one student. While it’s not necessary, we can do our best helping to match you with someone with similar interests. This is a very small time commitment and would serve as a great opportunity for you to get to know more Penn students outside of the annual alumni banquet.

To volunteer, please email Sarah Ijaz (s.ijaz17@gmail.com) and let her know if you have any preferences in terms of pairings.

Sub-Committee Updates


Salaam from the Strategic Planning team!

The 2013-14 academic year has been a great one for the alumni-led strategic planning efforts. The Muslim Chaplain that we were able to recruit last year, Kameelah Rahsad, has begun her second year as Chaplain for the Muslim community at Penn. In addition to documenting Penn’s MSA Legacy and compiling an online narrative of the MSA’s 50 year history (http://www.pennmsalegacy.org/), Kameelah has been regularly mentoring and counseling students as well as organizing the upcoming 50th Anniversary!

SPADE raised $35,000 this past Ramadan to support the chaplain position, which has helped secure Kameelah’s part time commitment to the role. We look forward to doubling our fundraising capabilities in the coming year to make this role a true full-time position that serves as a foundation for future institution-building.

Please contribute to the Chaplain Fund here (http://www.upennmsa.org/endowment/). Please note that the Term Fund directly supports the Chaplain position, while the Endowment gains support other initiatives managed by SPADE (scholarships, etc).

Reach out to me with any questions!

Advisory Board

The Advisory Board continues to work with the MSA for the 2013-2014 school year, our tenth together! We were grateful to have worked over the past year with outgoing MSA President Muhga Eltigani and are looking forward to working with new president Menvekeh Daramay over the coming year. in November, the MSA experienced another record number of candidates for its Executive Board and Board Council, which is a true testament to the level of involvement it has inspired in the Penn community. From our conversations thus far, we know that Menvekeh is committed to harnessing this energy and finding ways for everyone to contribute and feel that the MSA can be a spiritual and social home for them. Toward that end, we are working with the Executive Board to refine procedures for selecting the Board Council and extending outreach to our graduate student community.

With 2013 having come to a close, so too has the 50th year anniversary for MSA-National. We feel honored to be among the most active MSAs in the US and Canada, and are committed to maintaining an organizational structure that promotes engagement for all segments of Penn’s Muslim community, including its alumni. We feel blessed to have Sister Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad as our chaplain, as she has worked with both alumni and students to improve campus life for Muslims, and we are focused on working with fellow alumni to ensure that this position can be filled on a consistent basis and for years to come. We look forward to seeing everyone in the springtime for the alumni banquet.

Alumni Outreach

The Alumni Outreach committee has been working with alums across the country to set up events in their respective locations (details above). We are also working on finalizing details for the Alumni Banquet, so keep an eye out!

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