September 2017 Student Spotlight
September Student Spotlight with Elsayed Osman, BSPA ’19
“We spend so much of our lives working, so it might as well be something worth living for.” We speak with BSPA student Elsayed Osman about his approach to working and living, including civic actions from small to large, his involvement with the Baruch College Roosevelt Institute chapter, and working with the New York State Assembly.
What is your idea of civic or political engagement?
In my mind, civic engagement is community engagement. It does not have to be political, though it can include engaging in the community through policy. I don’t believe it is difficult for one to be civically engaged, nor should it have to be.
For the most part, everybody has something that is both important to them and also important to others in their community. This can be as simple as reporting a stop sign that isn’t as noticeable as it should be or even helping an elderly person hail a cab. In its simplest form, civic engagement to me is any action that is intended to create positive changes in the community.
Personally, I like policy and government, so I enjoy being engaged in policy conversations and strategizing with people who are passionate about the issues that I am passionate about.
Tell us about the Roosevelt Institute chapter at Baruch. What do you do as vice president?
The Roosevelt Institute is an advocacy organization and think tank that is run by students, with chapters at colleges across the country. The Institute gives students the organization and assistance to create ideas surrounding policy and actually move forward with making those changes in their communities.
I work better when I am in a group of collaborative thinkers and the Roosevelt Institute is a great organization to foster this. The Institute hosts a ton of working groups and opportunities to get together with other people who are passionate about the things you are interested in. I remember the first ever meeting I attended at Roosevelt Headquarters: we were sitting in a conference room brainstorming ideas for education policy proposals and it was in that meeting that I was drawn to the Institute. Speaking about education reform with other students who also were passionate about education was not only eye-opening for me, but it gave me a sense that there is a lot that can be done in our communities.
As Vice President I work with Selena to help facilitate these types of conversations at Baruch. We also work to help students in the club to think creatively and get engaged in their community, whether that be through proposing changes in the school, or through a proposal to state and local government.
Tell us about your 6 months with the New York State Assembly. What was the most challenging aspect? What have you learned?
I am extraordinarily thankful to have worked in the state legislature because I was able to have a full semester of credits that go towards my major while also learning about the lawmaking and political process hands on.
Working full time in the Assembly didn’t come without its challenges, though. It was difficult at times to navigate and separate the policy from the politics. Also, for an intern, my office gave me a lot of responsibility, which turned out to be blessing in disguise as I was able to learn so much. From experience drafting legislative resolutions, to working with bill drafters on actual legislation, and dealing with a plethora of constituent and interest group issues, I truly became an integral part of the office.
I remember one day in particular, where I started the morning with almost nothing on my to-do list and by the end of the day, I had begun working on coordinating an informational event, drafted a resolution, and dealt with research for two complicated constituent issues.
Through my day-to-day experience in the Assembly, I’ve learned how to look ahead and make the most of any down-time to prepare for inevitable surges in work. I went into the internship feeling as though I knew nothing about the political process and was able to use the opportunity for valuable work experience; I was able to gain an understanding of how actual change was effected in a community from issue to solution.
What’s your ideal career trajectory once you graduate?
Ideally, my goal is to help people realize that it takes engagement in order to change their community. Through education, nonprofit work and perhaps more time in politics, I would like to give others the tools to go out and become positive influences in whatever way they can. I am not sure that anybody can predict what challenges or opportunities will present themselves, however I do know that I will be fully engaged in whatever work I am doing. We spend so much of our lives working, so it might as well be something worth living for.