Pakistani teen in UAE elected to prestigious California student senate


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Dubai: A Dubai girl has been elected vice president of finance for a student body for 116 community colleges representing 2.1 million students in California, USA.

Fiza Syed, a 17-year-old Pakistani born and raised in Dubai, was elected after taking the lead by 10 votes in an online poll last month to receive her winning 43 votes from 76 delegates.

Fiza, a student of De Anza College in Cupertino, California, is currently pursuing her studies online from Dubai due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She won the elections for the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC), which gives students a voice in the formation of state policies that have a significant impact on students.

‘Reforms’ planned

Fiza said she aims to “implement reforms” to increase funding for students’ basic needs, which have only been “exacerbated” by the pandemic. “Being a community college student myself, I’ve come across a lot of people with concerns that are not being heard. Especially during the pandemic, persistent issues such as housing insecurity and food insecurity have only been exacerbated. Therefore, I’m beyond honoured to represent more than 2.1 million students on the state-wide level, to come up with solutions and implement reforms to increase funding for basic needs,” she added.

How will she do it?

Fiza said she will work towards increasing the SSCCC budget by finding donors, hosting fundraisers and “diversify the sources of revenue” in order to allocate funds towards student jobs, stipends and scholarships to support community college students, “especially in today’s scenario” of the pandemic. Historically, community colleges have been underfunded and their students underrepresented, according to Fiza.

Who is Fiza?
Fiza, a former student of St Mary’s Catholic High School and Hi-Fliers Academic Institute in Dubai, enrolled in De Anza College in Fall 2020, majoring in economics. She continues to maintain a Cumulative GPA of 4.0 at De Anza College.
At De Anza, she is also part of the Honors Program, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the De Anza Student Government. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is spending her first year of college in Dubai and interning with The Co-Dubai, a co-working and business incubator located in Downtown Dubai.

Future plans

Fiza said her dream is to transfer to University of California, Berkeley, and study at its Haas School of Business. After she graduates, she wants to “continue working in business with a social cause”. After completing her Bachelor’s, she wants to move back to Dubai.

Finding solace in family, cooking

With studies and work taking up most of her time, Fiza said she doesn’t get much time for herself. “However, when I do have free time, I like spending it with my family and friends. My family really loves my cooking and baking ever since I was seven-years-old, so I try to use my free time to test out new recipes for them. Baking is also therapeutic for me; it’s a good stress-reliever.”


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