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Dina Yazdani ’15

Like most first-years, Dina Yazdani ’15 spent her first semester figuring out the ropes of college life, but this definitely hasn’t prevented her from getting involved on campus and taking advantage of off-campus opportunities. She has established an outstanding presence on the Occidental campus in terms of pursuing her passion. Reviewing Dina’s extracurriculars, there is little doubt as to what that passion is.
This semester, she is Vice President of both the Muslim Students Association and the Persian Students Association, the President of Occidental’s One Voice chapter, and the Muslim representative of Interfaith Council. Outside of Oxy, she interns at the Highland Park headquarters for Muslim Public Affairs Council, an organization dedicated to demystifying Islamophobia and to educating people about Islam. “Misconceptions on Muslim affairs contribute to foreign policy that can affect the lives of many people,” she says, “and I really want to help change that.”
When asked about the origins of her interest in Muslim affairs, she discusses growing up learning about conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and developing an insight on Iran more thorough than that of the average person. Attaining knowledge of these issues, however, depended a lot on her own initiative.
Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Dina comes from a “very secular Muslim family”, although her mother is from a Sunni family in Malaysia and her father from a religious family in Iran. “When they came to America, my parents became critical of religion and the Arab world… I never had the opportunity to search for my Muslim identity, and even if I did, I didn’t want to tell my parents.” She is a dual citizen of Iran, but the Caucasian majority of her hometown’s population also proved to be an obstacle in learning more about this identity. When she started attending high school, the only available options for youth activism were involvement in the political club and political campaigning. She looked forward to enjoying the freedom and liberation to study whatever she wanted in college.
Dina’s interest in Midde Eastern culture and politics factored into her decision to study at Occidental. She recognized Oxy’s reputation as an activist college and had heard of their excellent Diplomacy and World Affairs program. Dina is also currently considering a minor in Politics.
In addition, the diverse, urban environment surrounding Occidental offered opportunities and resources that she wouldn’t be able to access back home. Unlike Portland, Los Angeles is home to a huge Iranian community. “I knew that was going to help me in the long run,” she says, “since my main focus is Iran.” Considering her accomplishments as a first-year, one can’t help but wonder where this Campus Celebrity’s dedication and ambition will be taking her next!

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