OCE Student Profile Series
by Laura Stephens
Nadia Asmal was one of the first friends I met during college, on the OCE 7G trip, and I’m so lucky to have known her. Her parents are diplomats, which has taken her all over the world. It’s definitely given her a global perspective and a deep empathy for everyone she meets. She always looks for opportunities to serve and make the lives of others better, and I’m so lucky to know her.She received the President’s Award for Service to the Community in 2013, so I know I’m not the only one who thinks she’s awesome. She’s currently living her post-grad life working at an embassy in Malawi.
Office of Community Engagement: How are you involved in community engagement at William & Mary?
Nadia Asmal: While I was a student at WM I was involved in several service groups at William and Mary. I was an Exec Board member and mentor with Campus Kitchen, and a co-founder and Vice President of the Gleaning Club.
OCE: How has this work contributed to community needs?
NA: My work with Campus Kitchen and the Gleaning Club helped to alleviate hunger in the area. Hunger is a big issue in Williamsburg, and both organizations work to tackle the issue by recovering food and produce that might otherwise be wasted.
In addition to tackling hunger related issues, my work with the Education and Programming section of Campus Kitchen contributed to community needs by providing mentorship and tutoring to local youths in low-income housing.
OCE: What does active citizenship mean for you?
NA: To me, being an active citizen means being the most helpful citizen you can be for your community. It means making a difference, be it big or small, in your little corner of the world.
OCE: How has your experience working in the community affected your educational career at William & Mary?
NA: My experience working in the community actually inspired me to take one of my favorite courses at William and Mary, “Community Engagement in Context.” The course covered all sorts of topics, from social good through business to art and social change.
OCE: How do you plan to use what you’ve learned as an engaged citizen beyond William & Mary?
William and Mary’s community engagement programs taught me that connecting to your community – whatever community that may be – makes for a more positive and more meaningful experience for everyone. I think that’s an important lesson as we all go off into new communities after we graduate.
One of the most important pieces of advice I gained during my work with W&M’s Community Engagement team is that you need to understand your community in order to make a meaningful contribution to it. I’m working overseas now and have really taken that message to heart.
OCE: What is the most memorable or striking moment you experienced during your engagement work?
NA: Sophomore year I volunteered with Dream Catchers Therapeutic Riding Center. It’s a wonderful organization that offers horseback riding lessons for children with disabilities. At one of the lessons an 11-year-old student said his first word – the horse’s name.