Fahim Gulamali (2014 BA in Religious Studies and Anthropology)
Assistant Director of Social Justice Education and Programming in the Pro Humanitate Institute at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC
Tell us about your current job role/employer and what you’re currently working on.
As Assistant Director in the Democratic Engagement and Justice Programs area in the Pro Humanitate Institute, my main responsibilities include: managing our Social Justice Incubator space, a student-led incubator space dedicated to advancing social justice through education, programming, and large-scale events; manage Deacon Camp, a three and a half day pre-orientation program that introduced 70 first-year students to Wake Forest University’s traditions and legacies; manage the Wake Alternative Spring Break program; plan a yearly banquet that recognize students, faculty, and staff accomplishments related to service and social action; design and lead social justice training sessions; and manage the institute’s graduate assistant.
What personal and/or career experiences did you have prior to landing your current job and leading to where you are now?
After graduating from Wake Forest, I was determined to work at an organization that centered and empowered LGBTQ individuals and/or women. A couple of months after graduating, I landed a job as a Program Coordinator for the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) in Washington, DC. PLEN is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., with the sole focus of preparing college women for leadership in the public policy arena. In this role, I designed content for and lead seven seminars; served as the primary point of contact for students, speakers, and volunteers participating in a seminar; moderated panel discussions; managed PLEN’s website and social media platform; and managed PLEN volunteers and campus student leaders.
I was also part of a feminist book club. ☺
What was the most challenging aspect of your first “real world job” and what did you learn from it?
The most challenging aspect of my first “real world job” was learning that I didn’t have to say yes to everything. At the time, I was living in Washington, DC, and there were always so many amazing things happening. I was also meeting new people, and was really excited to spend time with everyone. I quickly realized, however, that I was starting to burn out. My lesson from these “yes” experiences is that it is okay to say no sometimes, because there will always be another event I can attend, or another time that I can connect with individuals.
What advice would you give to new Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college?
Upon (or before) graduation, make a list of the small things you do to take care of yourself. And then carry this list out as you start your careers, because the first couple of months after graduation may be difficult emotionally, physically, and mentally.
For example, mindfulness practice and going to the gym were at the top of the list for me. When I was stressed about work or moving to a new environment, I was able to ground myself in being mindful and going to the gym everyday.
How have you made personal and professional relationships in your city, company, or community?
Authenticity. It is so important to be yourself, because building personal and professional relationships is about shared values. I have developed a number of personal and professional relationships with individuals in Winston-Salem which I truly value because we began our relationships from a place of authenticity.
Have you been mentored by anyone at Wake Forest or in your professional life? If so, what impact has that relationship had on you?
My mentors at Wake Forest have shown me the importance of vulnerability in relationships. They have shown me that any relationship requires work, and that in order to grow, we need to hold each other accountable to be the best versions of ourselves. It is because of my mentors at Wake Forest that I have grown in my personal and professional relationships.
What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional job?
My favorite Muslim poet and philosopher Jalaluddin Rumi once said “Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” Graduating can invoke a variety of conflicting emotions because many individuals are uncomfortable with the unknown. My advice to young alumni and students is that being uncomfortable is okay. Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable will push you to explore new places, make new friends, and learn from your professional jobs from a place of empowerment rather than fear.
What are your future career goals or plans? How are you being intentional about working towards them?
I am in the process of applying to law school! In an ideal world, I would practice public interest law at the intersections of social justice, law, and Islam. I took the LSAT a couple of months ago, which required (a ton of) studying every night after work. I am now in the process of finishing up my personal statement with plans to submit my first application in the next two weeks!
Story published in December 2018. For current updates about Fahim, visit his LinkedIn page.