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Orgs Spotlight: Conversations at UM-Dearborn

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Hanan Almathil, Staff Writer

Photo//University of Michigan-Dearborn

With over 150 student organizations, the University of Michigan-Dearborn has a wide range of organizations for students to participate in. Each organization represents UM-Dearborn in a unique way while also showcasing the diversity within. Here are five of the 100+ organizations at the University of Michigan-Dearborn as we discuss the unique representation they bring on to our campus.

The First Gen Student Org, founded in 2020, aims to “inform, connect, and celebrate first-generation college students” and “seek[s] to improve the first-gen experience through social and academic programming by creating events and facilitating first-gen initiatives through the Office of Student Life.”

Zainab Radi, a junior at UM-Dearborn, is the marketing chair for the FGSO. Radi describes FGSO as “ inspiring, supportive and serving” and has inspired her to give back to the community as well as appreciate the objective behind the organization. Along with marketing skills, Radi has also aimed to improve her communication skills since becoming a board member in the Fall of 2021. With many previous social events, Radi’s favorite events are the end of the year celebrations as well as the “Giving Blue Day” event. She believes that FGSO represents UM-Dearborn by “creating opportunities for leadership development, learning, student engagement, and fostering of shared interests. It shows the power of half if not more of the students attending UM-Dearborn and helps create a positive imprint along their academic journey.”

Joann Elmasri, a sophomore majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in psychology on the pre-med track, was first appointed as secretary for the Undergraduate Society of Psychology and Neuroscience (USPN) in 2020 when it was first founded. In 2021, she became vice president and then became the president towards the end of the Fall 2021 semester. Elmasri describes USPN as “positive, unique and inclusive” while also creating a sense of community between the members. She also emphasizes that USPN is not only for psychology majors, but to communicate with others, meet new people, and discover new career paths.

The organization’s most recent event, a picnic outing, successfully brought together many members for the first time since being back on campus. Elmasri describes collaboration and teamwork as a “great foundation to building an organization”, and has learned the importance of working in a group as well as having more passion for her interests. With lots of unique members, Elmasri describes diversity as the biggest factor in how USPN represents UM-Dearborn.

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) was first founded to “serve Muslim students during their college and university careers”. Melissa Kadri, a biochemistry major with a sociology minor, was appointed as the sisterhood chair during the summer of 2021. Kadri describes the MSA as a “well-organized, friendly and fun” safe space for Muslims. The biggest annual event of the year, Fastathon, is an event that many members of the MSA are looking forward to.

With monthly outings and lectures, the MSA board also addresses serious topics on spiritual abuse, racism, and climate change in Islam. Kadri highly prioritizes what the community needs when planning events and lecture topics. While the MSA was created for Muslims across colleges to communicate, Kadri highlights that non-Muslims are more than welcome to join and learn more about Islam.

Rhythm Sharma, a senior at UM-Dearborn, majoring in robotics engineering, has been a member of the Student Activities Board (SAB) since her freshman year. In her sophomore year, she became event chair and was then appointed president in her junior year. Sharma describes the SAB’s mission and vision statement as “enriching student life on campus by hosting a variety of social, diverse and leadership programs to complement the academic environment” and to “create programs and events for students to enjoy, engage in and meet other students.” She describes SAB as an “engaging and welcoming team environment”.

As president of SAB for the last two years, Sharma has demonstrated her leadership, interpersonal relationship skills, and creativity by creating a safe space for members to engage and learn from one another. While also benefiting from learning time management and the responsibilities that come with becoming president, Sharma has hosted a variety of events, including the most recent upcoming event, the Winter Wonderland Ball. She emphasizes the inclusivity that SAB brings when representing UM-Dearborn by including various cultural backgrounds when event planning.

Founder and current president of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Collection (CCJC) Sara Dokter is a senior majoring in cyber security with a concentration in digital forensics. Dokter created an organization to give students an opportunity to learn how their major can impact the criminal justice system as well as to gain "hands-on knowledge" with the community. CCJC has partnered with multiple outside sources to give back to the community, like shelter homes that provide free resources for homeless people.

The CCJC podcast, "Craving Crimes", was first launched in the Fall of 2021, where members and students can host a podcast episode to talk about crimes ranging from drug cases to unsolved murders. Dokter talks about one of her proudest events, the Influential Women in the Criminal Justice System. For the event, the organization invited a panelist of FBI agents, a US attorney, and a forensic psychologist. Dokter focuses on student engagement and helping students become "change-makers" in their field of choice after graduation. Dokter also stresses that the CCJC is always there for other students and organizations when in need of any help.

These organizations, along with many others, have created a community and a safe space for the UM-Dearborn community. Being a transfer student or an incoming freshman tends to be difficult and joining an organization makes the process a lot easier. All board members agree that “everyone is welcome” regardless of their background to join and attend the events being hosted.

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