UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Student Profile: Adnan Usman

Tara Makhmali

Tara Makhmali

Adnan Usman needed an outlet “to fuel the inner activist inside me.” And then one of his mentors led him to the doors of the senate as a starting point. Last spring, Usman sat on the senate as an ad hoc member where he was unable to vote on issues that mattered to him, but was still able to voice his concerns as an international student.

This fall, he began his term as 2004-2005 senate president. To summarize, Usman’s perspective as senate president in large part concerns representing the underrepresented.

Usman was born in Lahore, Pakistan and moved to the United States when he was eight years old. When listening to Usman speak, listeners can still detect a minor accent. “That’s because I have kept Urdu and Punjabi as my primary languages at home.”

Though Usman has lived most of his life in the United States, his personal experiences as an international student and “being treated as an international student” have been some of the major factors shaping his outlook.

“Identity is an issue I have learned how to deal with through my years in academia.” Now if someone were to ask him: who are you? Usman answered, “I am Muslim first, then Pakistani or American second.” Even before Usman began college, he fashioned the kindling of his future activism working for a company called Tech Boston. The goal of the project he worked on was to make more computers available for the school children of Boston. When he began the project the ratio of computers per children was 1:63. When he left the project that ratio was 1:2. “That was an accomplishment,” he stated with a smile.

As his college career began, Usman noticed the disadvantages he faced as an international student. Financial Aid was unavailable to him. Likewise, programs in Academic Support were also not accessible to him because of his F1 Visa status.

International student issues were “something I believed needed a lot more attention and at the time it wasn’t getting the attention it needed.” Thus, the solution-oriented activist ran for president of the International Student Association and won. He began sitting on International Student Service Committee meetings looking comprehensively at the services provided to UMB’s international student population and working to broaden them.

As an advocate for international student issues, Usman “started to pursue a more active role in the student life on campus looking at the uses and seeing if I could do something about them rather than sitting on the sidelines complaining.” Usman believes that “when you’re paying three times as much as an in-state student, you feel as though you should at least receive the benefits of services at UMB.”

As the senate underwent changes at the end of last year, fellow students recognized Usman’s potential. “I wanted to keep the momentum in the senate going and to work with people towards creating a senate that would influence the way students look at student government.”

Last year’s election was a close race. “I won by two votes,” reflected Usman. When asked how he perceived the fact that the head of student government was an international student, he responded: “I think it’s a turn of the tides,” as the issues of international students now have the medium to come to surface. “It’s an important role we play. I think there always needs to be an international student on the senate,” he continued.

As senate President, Usman wants to convey to UMB students that they should “lead by example-show you can do it first and be able to take blame first, then expect from others.”