By Alana Asusta
MSP: Tell me about your journey to becoming a Buckeye; what role did MSP play in that journey and how has MSP helped you once you arrived on campus?
Roaya Higazi: MSP is the reason that I came to The Ohio State University. Throughout my college search process, my biggest concern was how I was going to afford college, and MSP took a huge weight off of my shoulders in being able to attend a great school without the financial burden. Once I arrived on campus, I had familiar faces that I could lean on, and those were Courtney and Ralph. I took Courtney's class in my first semester at Ohio State, which really shaped my interests in social justice and how my identities impacted the ways in which I was able to navigate Ohio State in my first year. Even today, the program coordinators and friends I made through MSP continue to be my biggest support systems and inspirations at Ohio State.
MSP: What organizations are you a part of and what makes you so passionate about it?
RH: I'm a part of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Buckeyes First, and the North and South Sudanese Association. Each of these student orgs have provided me with an unmatched sense of community on campus and the support to enter and thrive in spaces that I never imagined myself being in previously. Each of these orgs provided me with the opportunity to learn more about myself, my leadership style, and connected me with incredible people across campus that have helped me reach my goals.
MSP: Why did you choose to run for President of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and what impact do you want to leave on USG and campus?
RH: Running for student body president was not a decision that came easy to me. For every reason I had to run, I gave myself a reason not to. I'm thankful that I'm surrounded with friends and mentors who reminded me that my reasons not to were rooted in fear. It was really a leap of faith. I knew that this was something I genuinely cared about so the least I could do was try. Ultimately, in my experience working with students –– through First Year Experience, Young Scholars Program, and Undergraduate Admissions –– I knew there were a multitude of issues that marginalized students face that USG has the power to change. During our term, I hope to inherently change the way students engage with student government and advocate for themselves in all levels of governance in the university. Throughout all of our policies and projects we want to place an emphasis on justice and equity and bringing our campus' most marginalized identities and lived experiences to the forefront of every conversation. Showing administrators that this is a priority to the student body creates a more equitable student experience for students across the board.
MSP: What is your major and why did you choose it?
RH: I'm majoring in City and Regional Planning with a focus in Housing, Community Development, and Social Equity. Coming to Ohio State, I had no idea what city and regional planning was. I was really interested in social justice and the impact of policymaking on different communities and knew that I eventually wanted to go to law school. My advisor, Christine Meadows, recommended that I try out a few CRP classes, and I fell in love with the course content. My courses have really changed the way I see the world and my understanding of the impact of policy and planning leaders; it has shaped my goals for the future of affordable housing policy.
MSP: What are your plans after graduation?
RH: After graduation, my goal is to pursue the Fulbright Scholarship and spend a year abroad. After that I hope to go to law school and pursue a career in the local or regional level of advocacy around affordable housing and housing anti-discrimination policy.
MSP: Who inspires you to succeed and why?
RH: My family, especially my mom, have always inspired me to have faith in the decisions and paths I take. My mom is a strong believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason, which encourages me to pursue opportunities and be proud of myself regardless of the outcome. The friends I've made in college have inspired me to define “success” in my own terms, which has been really influential in the ways I continue to move forward even in the face of obstacles.
MSP: What advice would you give for high school students thinking about college?
RH: My biggest tip for high school students is to think critically about your reasons for choosing a school. It's easy to get caught in prestigious names and rankings, but your success is determined by the opportunities and support a campus can provide you, including what degrees are available. Talk to students about their experiences, the community they've created, and the opportunities they've found. Most importantly, trust in your own ability to thrive wherever you go!