Dubai-born Pakistani student to represent 2.1m students in California

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on April 4, 2021


Rare student body honour for De Anza College alumnus.

A Dubai-based student, 17, was elected vice-president finance for a prestigious student body for 116 community colleges representing 2.1 million (m) students in California, US.

Fiza Syed, a Pakistani national, was elected vice-president finance for the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC) after winning by 10 votes in an online poll that took place on March 28.

Fiza received 43 votes in the 76-member SSCCC general assembly.

The SSCCC is a non-profit student organisation recognised by the board of governors of the California Community Colleges (CCC). It represents the CCC system in state-level shared governance and legislative advocacy.

Ran a successful online campaign

Fiza is a former student of St Mary’s Catholic School and the Hi-Fliers Academic Institute Dubai.

She is a freshman at the De Anza College in Cupertino, a well-known two-year transfer college with one of the highest rates in the state for student transfers to Ivy League universities in the US.

She enroled at De Anza in Fall 2020 and is majoring in business administration and finance. “Due to Covid-19, I’ve been spending the first year of college in Dubai while interning with Co-Dubai, a coworking and business incubator located in Downtown Dubai,” she told Khaleej Times.

Due to the time difference between the UAE and the US, Fiza attends her classes online at night.

Fiza launched an online campaign to win the elections, despite her hectic schedule. “I opened an Instagram page @fizaforVP, where I shared my election manifesto. I interacted with all the delegates online,” Fiza said.

Her methodical and meticulous approach helped her accomplish the many goals she has set for herself to date.

Keen to improve students' conditions in California

Fiza is ecstatic about the poll outcome.

“I’m beyond honoured to represent more than 2.1m students on the statewide level, come up with solutions and implement reforms to increase funding for basic needs,” she said.

She explained the reasons behind her keenness to contest the election.

“I’ve always been passionate about student advocacy and finance. The position is at a perfect intersection of my interests,” she said.

“Being a community college student myself, I’ve come across a lot of people with concerns that are not being heard. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, persistent issues such as housing and food insecurity have only been exacerbated,” she added.

Fiza aims to meet students’ basic needs by implementing reforms to increase access to funding.

“I'd like to work towards increasing our budget by finding donors, hosting fundraisers, and diversify our sources of revenue to allocate funds towards student jobs, stipends, and scholarships to support community college students, especially in today’s scenario, affected by the pandemic”, she said.

Fiza hopes to transfer her credits to UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business after her stint at the community college.

She has already charted her future plans after obtaining a graduate degree.

“I want to continue working in a business with a social cause in the UAE. I feel Dubai is home for my family and me.” She plans to return to the UAE after completing her bachelor’s degree.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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