Pitt Student Wins Distinguished Emerging Leadership Award
Hashaam Jamil (Psychology and Sociology)
Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences junior Hashaam Jamil received the 2017 Distinguished Emerging Leadership Award at Coro Pittsburgh’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards ceremony. The awards recognize individuals who have honored the legacy of King by demonstrating an inclusive approach to leadership.
“For me, the most rewarding part about service is watching other people find their passions,” says Jamil. “Seeing people grow and find purpose through service is so inspiring for me.” A native of Woodbridge, N.J., Jamil did not initially have much service experience when he arrived at Pitt, but he quickly developed a passion for it by working with the Office of PittServes as a work-study student.
“By the end of my freshman year, I had become really engaged in community outreach,” says Jamil. “I sought out leadership roles and started to love being a leader. From there, I became a resident assistant and participated in the Emerging Leaders Living Learning Community.”
Jamil is pursuing a double major in psychology and sociology. His college career has been marked by a commitment to service and a desire to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion. He currently volunteers with the Student Civic Engagement Council (SCEC) of PittServes, and he was accepted in the Pitt School of Social Work’s Browne Leadership Fellowship Program in 2016 to serve the North Side community of Pittsburgh.
“With SCEC and the Browne Fellowship, I was able to spend months on the North Side learning more about neighborhoods I had no idea existed,” Jamil says. “I met incredible leaders who accepted my colleagues and me into their community and let us learn more about the area. The experience taught me that the key to fostering relationships and solving problems in a community rests in learning about that community’s history, its personality, and who that community represents.”
In addition, Jamil has been a leader in Pitt’s Bottom Line program. He describes the program’s purpose as “bridging differences between diverse communities through something all communities have in common: community service and the want to make your community better. By focusing on that commonality, we can build a foundation for different groups to work together and really show that we are inclusive, no matter your faith, skin color, sexual orientation, or physical or mental ability. It’s a great way to show Pitt that no matter who you are, there are people of all different backgrounds who welcome you and want you to be a part of not just their community but the Pittsburgh community as a whole.”
Jamil also volunteers with the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and is currently working with the organization to develop an interfaith dialogue.
“By the end of my time at Pitt, I hope that any incoming student— no matter what their beliefs are—will feel like they can be accepted here,” says Jamil. “And I think that getting involved in service is a great way for students to make connections and find that they are welcome in our community.”
Not only does Jamil hope to encourage more students to become involved in service, but he also wants to be a source of hope for his peers who may be struggling with mental health issues.
“I suffer from depression, and the night I found out I was nominated for the MLK award, I was feeling really bad—feeling like a failure,” Jamil says. “Depression is that voice in your head that sounds like you but is 10 times louder.
“It was at that moment that I decided to check my e-mail, and I saw that I was nominated for this award,” says Jamil. “I realized that there were people out there who love me, who were proud of me and what I’ve accomplished. Being nominated meant that their trust in me had come to fruition in some regard. It made me feel proud, and I hope it made them feel validated.”
More than anything, Jamil strives to empower students to feel like they have a voice in their community. “I’ve been able to use community service as a way to not only show them the difference they can make but also connect them to people with passions that may align with their own,” he says.