Current Year: Sophomore
Why did you come to MSU? Before I came, I did research online and compared the different universities that I applied in the U.S. MSU stood out and impressed me with its welcoming, inclusive and dynamic campus. It’s home to a diverse community of dedicated students and faculty who are from more than 130 other countries. Also, MSU ranks in the top 10 for study abroad participation and international student enrollment in the nation. I believed studying at MSU would greatly internationalize my learning experience and enhance my cultural awareness. My two years at MSU have proved that my decision was not only good, but the best ever. Last but not least, I fell for our mascot, Sparty. He is just too cute and I wanted to hug him in person.
Are you involved in anything on campus that isn’t related to academics? Besides studying, I enjoy participating in different student activities. One of the organizations that I am heavily involved in is called the Leadership Institute at MSU(LIMSU). I am the co-founder and president of this newly formed student organization, which works to empower students at MSU to fulfill their leadership potential by providing them with various leadership development programs. I am also one of the directors of the annual Alumni Auction planning team. It is the premier fundraising event within the business school. We raised more than $170,000 in this year’s auction.
How did you get involved with it? In summer 2012, I was nominated to attend a LeaderShape Institute Session, which is a six-day educational experience designed to help develop college students into leaders with integrity. It is where I first got a formal introduction to the philosophy of Leadership and, more importantly, I connected with many outstanding student leaders at MSU who inspire me to do more. After I left LeaderShape, I started having ideas of building a Leadership Institute back on campus to provide more leadership development opportunities to students and foster the awareness of leadership among Spartans. I gathered three other LeaderShape attendees who share my vision and passion and built up LIMSU. Throughout this half-year, we successfully hosted our kick-off events and two other Leadership workshops. Our Leadership team has since grown from 4 members to now 10 members. I am very excited to see LIMSU continue to grow and create a greater positive impact within this dynamic community.
What are your hobbies? I love dancing; I’m pretty good at salsa and merengue. Every time I dance, I forget about all the things that make me stressed and sometimes, new ideas come to my head. Dancing also teaches me a lot about the art of following.
What is something that you are very passionate about? While I was working in the Development Department at International Studies and Programs, I found my passion in philanthropy and fundraising. That is something meaningful to me and I wish to could go farther on this path and start my career within the public sector.
What is your favorite quote? “So the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely—all your skills, gifts and energies—in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming. “ –Warren Bennis
What is your favorite thing to do in East Lansing? Jogging on campus in the October and cooking with friends in the community kitchen in my residence hall.
What are your goals after college? After college, my goal is to start my career within a field that I have passion for and is challenging. I feel it is in the moments in which we are uncomfortable that we grow the most. As a Spartan, I want to be challenged, especially in my early career. So, I might start my own business or apply to work for a highly competitive company.
What is your favorite food? Any food made by mom.
Name one thing that you have found in East Lansing that you wish you could find in your home country. I wish my home had the exciting sports atmosphere that MSU has. I think Sports is a way to unite people together, physically and psychologically.
What is something that you found strange or unusual when you first came to MSU? At the beginning, I found football games strange. I didn’t understand any rules at all. I cheered while others were cheering. It’s pretty confusing, but the atmosphere is fun and that is what I love and enjoy.
Do you have any advice to offer your fellow Spartans? Find out your passion and believe strongly that you have potential to do anything you decided to do. Recognize the power of leadership and take action to develop this critical skill through course work, extracurricular activities and professional development. We are Spartans, go out and win the battle, not only on the sports field but also in academics and your future career. Keep up the momentum and our Spartan profession!
Dena Elian is an International Relations Senior at MSU’s James Madison College. Currently, she is the Experiential Learning Intern at OISS. Her campus activities include involvement with organizations that promote Middle Eastern politics and Arab Culture. If you’d like to be featured in a Student Spotlight entry, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.