The first part of 2016 started on a strong note. My daughter was born on December 4, 2015 so I had a newborn at home. I was working on new projects at work. My wife had been offered a new
job opportunity. I started a new semester of my Executive MBA program at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
Two classes that I found very useful were Strategy and Operational Management. I was learning new ways to address obstacles at work. I was paying more attention to the financial market and the economy. I had a better understanding of the business world around me.
One class that really stands out now was called, "Leadership in Times of Uncertainty." Currently, my American Muslim community is collectively feeling nervous, anxious and worried for what is to come under a new administration. I remember the guest speaking telling us that we often focus on the big picture and lose sight of what is in front of us. We don't live in the current moment. At the time, I applied this to my work, realizing that I'm so focused on creating a vision for my future goals that I am not living in the moment and realizing how much I enjoy my current role and far I have come in my career.
The ugly rhetoric of the presidential election propelled me to get more involved in my community. In 2016, the American Muslim community has experienced mosque arsons, vandalism of Muslim homes, pig heads being thrown at places of worship, Muslim women shot at, Muslim women set on fire, Muslim store owners assaulted, harassment and verbal abuse in public places, school bullying, and other acts of hate and discrimination.
Being in the forefront of community service, activism, and engagement was no longer a choice. I had to tackle these serious issues facing my community and ensure that the community would continue to be strong, resilient and empowered.
As summer approached, I realized that there would be no summer vacation in the Executive MBA program. After I celebrated the completing of the first year of my MBA program, I began studying for the second year. The summer session included a one-week residency in Michigan. It was an intensive, busy, exciting time.
Around the same time, my father-in-law was hospitalized. This was a very challenging time. We were hoping for the best, but knew the reality of the situation. My wife had started a new job only a few months earlier but was traveling weekly to Chicago to be with her family.
On September 30, my father-in-law passed away. As busy as we are, there is a pause button on life. I hit pause and took care of family. There was no question in my mind. Despite the consequences, even if I had to take the semester off (thankfully, I didn't), I was ready to do it.
I hear a lot of complaints about 2016, but there was so much good that happened in my life in 2016. I was given more challenging opportunities at work and the ability to prove my leadership. I watched my baby daughter turn into a sweet little girl with a strong personality. I watched my son excel in Kindergarten and become more interested, rather obsessed with, sports.
I continued to focus more on networking, meeting with several groups at my place of work and following up on coffee and lunch meetings with colleagues. I am part of the Muslim Network Group at my company. Through this group, we have met with the vice-president of diversity and inclusion to discuss trainings and resources for employees and guests of the company. We have created on-site meditation rooms and worked to make the office facility inclusive and positive. We created a strong group of people who network and mentor one another.
I am excited about 2017 and the opportunities that it will bring to me- in my career, family, and community. I am counting down the days until my Executive MBA program is finished and looking forward to graduation on April 28, 2016.
This is going to be a great achievement for my entire family because everyone has made sacrifices and adjustments to allow me to pursue this opportunity. I am counting all the free time I am going to have, when I no longer have to write lengthy term papers, study for finals and midterms, reads hundreds of pages for each class, re-read the dense material for understanding, attend group meetings and phone calls, visit Michigan to attend classes, and more.