Abeer Syedah, Student Body President at the University of Minnesota, joined the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) as an intern during her first year on campus. “When I got to campus and was in line at Middlebrook for the first night of Welcome Week’s Target run, this beautiful blonde princess-looking lady, Fiona Cummings, came over to me and introduced herself as the Student Body VP. Just to be cute, I told her I wanted to be her in three years. Jokes on her, I did it in two!”
After serving as the Student Body Vice President during the 2015-16 academic year, Abeer ran for Student Body President for 2016-17 and was elected with 66% of votes cast. Abeer has spent her college career advocating for greater representation of the student body, not only in MSA, but everywhere on the University of Minnesota campus. She is a currently a senior studying Political Science, with minors in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and Sociology. She’s got a big following on Twitter and an even bigger heart. When she’s not advocating for more gender-neutral bathrooms, greater mental health resources and greater accessibility to menstrual care products, she will happily meet you at the Purple Onion for tea–you can take our word for it.
Q&A With Abeer Syedah
Q: What is your biggest piece of advice to students at the University of Minnesota?
A: Seize every opportunity you have to learn more and stop pretending you know everything. We all spend way too much time and energy just faking it. Faking that we know what we want, that we’re okay, that our life’s together, that we know our future. But none of us really do, so why do we all spend so much time validating these facades? Just embrace uncertainty and focus your energy on that learning experience. Formally, in the classroom, and informally, surrounded by different people, communities, disciplines, ideas and opportunities.
Q: Why is it important for women’s voices to be heard on campus?
A: When the voices of women-identified folks are given light, you’re giving light to one of the most powerful, influential and large blocks of the human population. It’s ridiculous that by default and systemically, our voices are not given a platform because we, womyn, have an incredible amount of diversity among us and all our voices, at every intersection, make way for a fuller story and a bigger picture.
Q: What advice do you have for women on campus who want to take on leadership roles and who want to make change possible?
- Don’t deny your passion. Don’t try to make your excitement or your anger or your emotions smaller.
- You don’t have to be everything for everyone and do everything for everyone. You can say no. You are an empowered leader in knowing your capacity.
- Take care of yourself. It’s a long-term investment in your productivity.
- Your worth is not measured by your productivity.
- Business casual is a scam.
Q: Who is your favorite music artist?
Queen Bey, forever and always.
Q: Where is your favorite place to spend time on campus?
A: #WestBankBestBank, particularly near the Arts areas, at Mapps Coffee, or eating at the great Afro Deli.
Q: What are you most excited about this academic year?
A: I love every aspect of this journey, but now I am excited to begin preparing for the next phase of my life. It’s nerve-wracking but I’m jazzed.
Q: What is one thing you love about yourself?
A: I really love that I am a thinker and a self-evaluator, from a place of self-love. Having confidence and loving myself enough to want to improve myself from a place of genuine self care, and not from insecurity, is a very liberating way of being.