Skip to content
Connect
Stories

First-generation graduate sets sights on law school

Photo of Abdul Hafiz

Abdul Hafiz, SSH’15—the global cit­izen, campus leader, and Torch Scholar—will grad­uate on Friday, becoming the first member of his family to earn a col­lege degree. Here, Hafiz reflects on his past five years at North­eastern and looks ahead to the future, bright with law school and polit­ical aspirations.

Abdul Hafiz, SSH’15—the global cit­izen, campus leader, and Torch Scholar—will grad­uate on Friday, becoming the first member of his family to earn a col­lege degree. Here, Hafiz reflects on his past five years at North­eastern and looks ahead to the future, bright with law school and polit­ical aspirations.

You’re a first-​​generation col­lege stu­dent from Staten Island, New York, the son of par­ents from Ghana. What will it mean to you to be the first member of your family to grad­uate from college?

Growing up, I always wanted to go to col­lege. My par­ents, too, wanted me to go, but they didn’t have the formal edu­ca­tion to help me beyond saying, ‘This is some­thing you’re going to do.’ My mom and dad will be in atten­dance on Friday, seeing me grad­uate at the TD Garden. It will def­i­nitely be a mean­ingful expe­ri­ence for them, both of whom have sup­ported me in every way they could. They’ve instilled values in me that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life, and for me to have them there to see what I’ve accom­plished along this journey will be an emo­tional moment. There might even be tears.

You studied inter­na­tional affairs and polit­ical sci­ence at North­eastern. What’s next?

I want to enroll in law school. I’ll be taking this year to focus on studying for the Law School Admis­sion Test and looking for work in order to gain even more expe­ri­ence to add to my resumé. My par­tic­ular inter­ests lie in cor­po­rate law and cyber law. There’s not a lot of public policy related to cybersecurity—the ever-​​changing nature of the field clouds the rules and regulations—so I’d like to be a pio­neer in this space.

I might want to try working in pol­i­tics down the road but I haven’t yet come to a defin­i­tive deci­sion. Pol­i­tics is a volatile and cut­throat pro­fes­sion, yet I’ve worked with politi­cians before and it’s an area that I could see myself in. We’ll see in 10 years from now how it turns out.

Your lead­er­ship expe­ri­ence runs deep, from peer tutor and ori­en­ta­tion leader to under­grad­uate director for the Kappa Alpha Psi fra­ter­nity and vice pres­i­dent of Northeastern’s National Pan-​​Hellenic Council. How have these expe­ri­ences shaped your lead­er­ship values?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is this: No matter what, you can’t do every­thing by your­self. As a leader, you have to be a moti­vator and a voice of reason. You can’t shy away from moments of con­tro­versy, and if you mess up, you have to admit that you were wrong, you have to fall on the sword.

Being a leader is some­thing I’ll con­tinue to be, some­thing that’s innate within my nature. I was pres­i­dent of the Susan E. Wagner High School, in New York City, where I was involved in the mock trial team. I, too, was a leader at North­eastern, a role that I don’t foresee myself ever relinquishing.

What role did the Torch Scholars Pro­gram play in your suc­cess at Northeastern?

My being selected as a Torch Scholar more than five years ago was one of the most mem­o­rable moments of life, some­thing that I will for­ever cherish. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the pro­gram; I cer­tainly wouldn’t be here at North­eastern, one of the nation’s top-​​ranked uni­ver­si­ties. In my time on campus, I have been for­tu­nate to be rec­og­nized for my work in many ways—from being selected for the “Hunt­ington 100” to being named the university’s Fra­ter­nity Sorority Life Out­standing Man of the Year—but none of that would have been pos­sible without being a Torch Scholar. Without that dis­tinc­tion, nothing would have been possible.

You com­pleted two Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­grams, one to Belo Hor­i­zonte, Brazil, the other to Geneva, Switzer­land. How did these inter­na­tional expe­ri­ences pre­pare you for the next step in your aca­d­emic journey?

Working or studying abroad is a valu­able piece of a North­eastern edu­ca­tion. To be an edu­cated 21st-​​century cit­izen you need to have inter­na­tional expe­ri­ence. We live in a global mar­ket­place, where busi­ness and cor­po­ra­tions require their employees to have a strong under­standing of the world beyond the Amer­ican value system. Having that knowl­edge gives you a com­pet­i­tive edge, whether you’re entering the job market or pur­suing grad­uate edu­ca­tion. My Dia­logue to Geneva, which focused on diplo­macy and dis­ar­ma­ment and which required me to deci­pher legal jargon and the lan­guage of dif­ferent United Nations treaties, will be a valu­able expe­ri­ence to draw upon as I begin my law school appli­ca­tions and interviews.

-By Jason Kornwitz

More Stories

Photo of the Capitol Building at night

High stakes for politics, SCOTUS in 2018

01.04.2018
Photo of the crashed truck that was used in the October 31st attack in Manhattan.

Weaponizing Language: How the meaning of “allahu akbar” has been distorted

11.08.2017
Northeastern logo

Why I love studying Spanish

05.29.20
Uncategorized