Episode 25: RUSM Muslim Student Association (MSA)
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) seeks to support the Muslim students and other students of faith attending Ross University. They also aim to provide safe and comfortable spaces of prayer and meditation, while bringing awareness to the faith of Islam. My guests today are current students, officers of the MSA, and future Drs. Ro Rahimi and Temur Hannan.
Milena Garcia: Hello future Rossies and pre-med explorers, this is Milena Garcia your host for Ross University Checking the Pulse: A pre-med Podcast. This is our mini podcast featuring facts and information about our medical program, insights from current students and tips from practicing physicians. Each week this broadcast will be broken down in small episodes, focusing on one aspect of our program, also having guests talk about their own experiences as students and as doctors. The Muslim Student Association, also known as MSA, seeks to support the Muslim students and other students of faith attending Ross University. They also aim to provide safe and comfortable spaces of prayer and meditation while bringing awareness to the faith of Islam. My guests today are current students officers of the MSA and future doctors Ro Rahimi and Timur Hanan. Welcome back!
Ro Rahimi: Hi, future Rossies. My name is Ro. Well, my full name is Rashaan but I am a 4x student here at Ross and I'm actually from California, where I went to St. Mary's College of California and majored in biology and philosophy, and I'm currently the president of the Muslim Student Association here at Ross.
Timur Hanan: Hey future Rossies, my name is Timur Hanan, I'm a 5c student. I started Ross in the fall of 2019 and before that I got my undergraduate degree in human physiology and my master's in international affairs. I'm currently doing virtual learning in Frederick, Maryland.
Garcia: Let's start with the definition. What is the MSA, madam president?
Rahimi: Thank you! So truly the MSA is comprised of an e-board, which includes myself as the president, a vice-president, various other members, a philanthropy chair like Timur, who's joined us here today, and we're really there to make sure that the organization runs smoothly. But really the MSA consists of Ross students, staff, and faculty who come together to promote the Muslim identity in an inclusive and diverse environment. We'd like to include a lot of other perspectives and beliefs in terms of beliefs and faiths to learn more about Islam like you said in your intro. You raise awareness for Islam and in addition to including and involving RUSM staff, faculty, and the students, we like to reach out to the community as well and we kind of do that through our weekly Jum’ah prayers.
RUSM MSA Association Community
Garcia: In fact let's talk about that can you tell us a little bit more about the spaces of prayer available to the MSA?
Hanan: Yeah, of course. So on campus we have a dedicated prayer room where we can offer not the early morning one but the other four or five daily prayers. That is typically organized by a position that we have on island called student Imam, who coordinates the times in which these daily prayers would happen and then also as I mentioned earlier, Jummah prayer, all the other numbers, like our Friday prayer, our holy day in Islam, the student Imam will coordinate with the local Imam in Barbados to come and give a sermon. That's a great way that we can have the student organization, everyone that's involved in the student organization and even non-Muslims to come out to the Jummah prayer and to kind of just see what we're about and then also to bring the local community, local Muslims that are in Barbados, to our Jummah prayers.
Garcia: Timur, what kind of community outreach program do you guys host?
Hanan: So one of the first ones that got started was the campaign for domestic violence and that was followed up by fundraising, so fundraising for that and then fundraising for the Black Lives Matter movement. Mind you all of this is during virtual learning, so it's quite difficult to put together a social media campaign, and then in addition to those two we did a Covid relief where we managed to raise around $2,000 from the Ross community. That went towards building wells, providing medical kits to a starving nation. Recently we did a Uyghur, the Muslim minority population in China, we did a awareness campaign on the sort of human rights injustices as they've been precinct. We look to continue this going forward in the future, bringing these certain topics, special topics to the awareness of the community.
Rahimi: Just to piggyback off of what Timur was saying, I have actually been on the board since my first semester so the MSA holds a very special place in my heart. I was there and I'm the one who witnessed alongside the other keyboard members that there truly was a disconnect. We had all these resources, so we just didn't know how to allocate them appropriately, so ever since we have instilled this role of philanthropy chair. It's really helped to form a bridge between us and our resources and those around us that we could support.
Garcia: Let's talk about and I'm sure the future Rossies would want to know, how do the Muslim students at Ross adjust their dietary needs?
Hanan: Of course. So I'm assuming this is in regards to the halal food? Not all Muslims do that, but for those that do there are plenty of options on the Island. If you're living in Coverley, which a lot of students do, the grocery store actually sell halal food that's supplied by armor's chicken, whose actual factory and chicken coops are right down the street from coverley. If you wanted to go pick it up in person. So Massey's carries a lot of food, there are a couple of restaurants there you can just go on and ask where they get their meat from, they'll say Homer's chicken. So there's Homer's chicken and it's kind of hard not to eat all the food if you go out. There is one spot down in the gap, there's a KFC that actually has halal food there. Then in addition to that, which I did not know, this was when I was on the island, is that that spouses of Muslim students that come to the island will do meal prep because a lot of students know it's hard to cook so you're busy, so these wonderful people prepare these foods according to your dietary needs, whether it's like a long gluten-free or whatever specifications, so that was really helpful to have, being Muslim on the island.
Garcia: Let's talk about you guys. Why Ross? Ro, why Ross?
Rahimi: To be honest at the time that I got the acceptance from Ross, I was considering a few different options and I just felt like with Ross anytime I would reach out and get asked a question I would get a very genuine and like wholehearted response back, so I truly felt like they wanted me there and it wasn't just like the selection process. But also truly, I was the recipient of a scholarship which also has really persuaded my decision. It was one of the only schools that ended up giving me aid and the scholarship was a really great help so that was my choice.
Garcia: Timur what about you?
Hanan: Oh yeah just picking back on the scholarship comment I have received a similar offer and in addition to that when I was going through the application process, I was considering Caribbean schools but specifically the ones which I knew people that went there and so it was actually through another sort of Muslim networking event I was a part of, I met someone and three years down the road I reached out to them about how I had saw that they had been going to Ross University, so I just reached out to them and they were super candid and super open about their experience and the sort of support you get being a Muslim at Ross University. I think that was one of the major factors for me, just having a Ross personal connection
Rahimi: Sorry I'd like to also add something as well, now that I now recall looking into heavily when I was applying and kind of figuring out where to go is I like that Ross had the option to choose which piece I would want to complete my curriculum within, so they have like the x or like the accelerated-track and then they have the standard curriculum and I liked that it had that versatility so I liked that flexibility as well.
Garcia: Is there anything that you wish you knew ahead of time or that you feel our future Rossies should know?
Rahimi: Yeah I mean absolutely. So I think everyone kind of knows that there's this general initial stigma when you do apply to a Caribbean program and I thought you know this was– I did think about this heavily and at the time prior to medical school I used to work in clinical cancer research at one of the top three academic universities here in the nation and I was working under all these prominent cancer researchers and actually, I recall this woman who ran our whole entire department. She's this incredible physician and she would walk into a room and everyone, their jaws would drop because it would be so enamored by her. I remember having a conversation with her when I got into Ross, and she herself was actually an international medical graduate and she told me it's not about where you get your DMV, it's actually what you do with it. So that was like some of the most valuable advice I'd ever gotten in my life and I saw her and the position that she was in and the influence she had over people and the changes she was making in people's lives every single day and in the world of cancer research and she was an international medical graduate and I was like oh man, she's so phenomenal and so that truly was something that I wish I knew before was that don't let those types of things hold you back. It's not about where you get it or how you get it or how old you or when you get it, it’s about what you do with it when you do get that title as a physician.
Garcia: Any suggestions or advice on how to be successful in medical school for our future Rossies?
Hanan: A few things that pop into my head are that everyone is different in the way they learn, so you're going to get tons of advice, tons of resources thrown at you and you need to find what works for you. That's one piece of advice. The second piece of advice is to seek out help when you need it. Medical school is an entirely different ballgame from undergraduate, so it's just the amount of hours and content you're receiving. There's great resources that Ross has, like the ATL. They have tutors. There’s a tutor specific for anatomy. There's advisors that are willing to help you one-on-one. So my second piece of advice is to seek out help when you need it. Another thing that I don't think is mentioned enough is there's been a few talks that the wellness center has had on imposter syndrome, because you can once you start in med school or even before you start at school you may feel like do I really fit in? Can I actually be a doctor? I don't belong, right?
Garcia: Exactly, yeah, was this a mistake?
Hanan: Exactly. Did they let me in? What happened? It's definitely gonna happen. This happened to me, but you just have to think about what you've done to get here and why you wanted to become a doctor and like Ro was saying earlier, it's what you do with your MD that really defines you, not where you go to school. As long as you work hard and don't doubt yourself I think you'll be good.
Garcia: I agree and I want to echo both of your messages for everyone listening. If you're given the opportunity you run with it. You belong there. We believe in you and you’ll make the best of it and you become the best professional that you can. I want to thank you both for taking your time and being here. Timur, come back anytime I really appreciate your time and for everybody listening, thank you for joining us. We will see you next time. Thank you for listening to Ross University: Checking the Pulse: A Pre-med Podcast. This is Milena Garcia, your host. This podcast is made for you, so let me know what topics you want us to cover in future episodes. You can send me your comments, feedbacks, and requests to email@example.com. Definitely follow us on Instagram, Twitter and our YouTube channel at rossmed school or on Facebook. If you’re listening to this podcast on iTunes, I am working my way to five stars, so remember to send me your comments and let me know your ideas. If you’re on Spotify, remember to click the follow button to get our future episodes. Alright, see you future Rossies and pre-med explorers next week!