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CMU Student Interview w/ S. Zafar | Part 2: Trying Something New

S. Zafar, who attended Carnegie Mellon University, earned a 35 on her ACT, took 13 AP classes in high school, events' chair for FORGE (refugee empowerment club), the president of high school Amnesty International Chapter, and the president of Undergraduate Economics Journal at Carnegie Mellon.


 

Key points S. Zafar shares:

  • "However, as I grew into the role, I became more comfortable with presenting in front of others, mediating conflicts, and showcasing my passion for human rights."

  • "I would advise students to try out different extracurriculars because of their interest in them, and that any experience ultimately brings value."





Q: How did you attract students to join your high school’s Amnesty International Chapter, which you found and led?

A: I planned our first meeting far in advance by posting flyers weeks before the first meeting, asking the school to mention our introductory meeting over the loudspeaker, and incentivizing students to join by offering free pizza. Our first meeting had an incredible turnout, and it was rewarding to see how my initial outreach efforts paid off. However, I knew that the ultimate goal was to have a dedicated and engaged group of students interested in Human Rights advocacy. I created an email contact list of students who attended our first meeting and created a newsletter in which students can find out when our next meeting is and what we plan on doing; furthermore, important news regarding Human Rights and Amnesty International updates. By continually engaging interested students through meetings/email, I was able to have a successful club and have a number of events!



Q: What did you gain from your experience as president of your school’s Amnesty International Chapter?

A: Prior to my role as president of my high school’s Amnesty International Chapter, I had never served as the leader in an organization. For the first time of my life, I was the figure in charge of delegating tasks, creating events, and conducting outreach. Initially, the position pushed me out of my “comfort zone” in many ways. I was overwhelmingly tasked with promoting my club in front of my classmates, holding votes for executive board positions, and deciding which issues to pursue. However, as I grew into the role, I became more comfortable with presenting in front of others, mediating conflicts, and showcasing my passion for human rights.



Q: About how much time a week did you dedicate to some of your major extracurriculars?

A: 7-9 hours on an average week.



Q: What advice or encouragement would you give to students who aren’t sure of what extracurriculars to participate in or if what they’re participating in will truly make a difference?

A: Reading College Confidential posts, it seems that there is a perception that only certain activities that “look good” on a college application are worthwhile. I wholeheartedly disagree. I would advise students to try out different extracurriculars because of their interest in them, and that any experience ultimately brings value. My junior year, I became slightly interested in engineering and joined the Robotics team. Although I ultimately felt as if it wasn’t suited for me, I created wonderful friendships with people I would have otherwise never met and learned how to assemble a robot!




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