Western societies abound with a large number of Arab students and researchers in various fields, who play important roles in the educational system there, not only at the research and academic level, but also at the administrative and leadership level during and after university studies.
Among these leaders, an American of Egyptian descent, Bayan Galal (19), who became the first Arab and Muslim to hold the position of President of the Student Union at Yale University in the United States, throughout the university’s 320-year history. Read also Swiss Muslim woman: Banning me from wearing the niqab is against the values of multiculturalism For the first time in US history, a Muslim immigrant woman has held the position of attorney general How has the world’s view of the Muslim veil changed after a year of Corona masks? A simple initiative for a Muslim girl in Canada turns into a charitable project that includes an army of volunteers
“Sanad” agency for news verification on Al-Jazeera network interviewed this Muslim student to get to know her closely, and asked her about the impact of her Arab and Islamic upbringing on her leadership personality, how to reduce Islamophobia, and her goals during her current presidency.
And the text of the conversation:
- First of all, we would like to get to know you more.. Who is Bayan Jalal? I’m a 19-year-old Muslim and Egyptian-American, just finishing my second year of undergraduate studies at Yale University. I study a double major in Molecular Biology and Global Affairs, and a minor in Global Health Studies; I am interested in the intersection of healthcare and international relations, and I hope to go to medical school. At Yale, I am actively involved in the Student Union Council, the Yale Society for International Relations, and the Muslim Student Association, as well as participating in research in various fields.
- How did your upbringing in a Muslim family affect your life in America? My Islamic and Egyptian identity was an important part of my upbringing, and the guiding force for what I do. The decisive Islamic principles of doing good and the desire to change for the better were my motivating factors. Because Muslims are a minority in the United States, and often face negative stereotypes, I worked to set a positive example for the Muslim image.
- Why did you choose your current major at the university and what are your ambitions? I hope to better understand the intersection between healthcare and international development to pursue both medicine and global health.
I aspire to complete a master’s degree in public health and then join medical school, and become a practicing physician, and I also pursue health policy work.
- What is the importance of volunteer and social activity for university students? I think college students are in a unique position to do a good job with the time and resources available to them. Specifically at Yale, joining the Student Union Council is a great opportunity to work on policies and events that have wide-ranging impacts on student interests.
- For the first time in 320 years, a Muslim woman has been elected president of the Student Union Council at Yale University. This is an exceptional event.. How did this happen? I have been on the University Student Union Council since the beginning of my first year at Yale, where I served as a first-year council representative, organized first-year events, and as a senator worked on policy projects related to academic reform.
During my second year, I was appointed to the Executive Board and served as Director of Health Policy and the COVID-19 Pandemic, and in this role, I ensured that students had access to pandemic-related resources. Most notably: I secured reimbursement of up to $120 per week for remote students to get a corona test, I secured PPE for off-campus students, and I organized events to educate students on public health topics, such as questions and answers about corona vaccination.
Through these various roles on the College Board I have demonstrated a clear commitment to delivering measurable results to the student community, and I hope to continue that to an even greater extent through the role of President.
- She got 56% of the votes.. Tell us about your electoral action plan? What are the grounds for your nomination? was not Winning an election an easy feat, and several factors played an important role. First, I worked with the vice president to craft a robust policy platform that demonstrated our goals and priorities at Yale. We shared our platform in a number of ways, including our campaign website, our social media accounts, and campaign video.
Second, I had an amazing group of people supporting me along the way, my family and friends were willing to put in the time and energy to support my campaign, and I couldn’t have done without their support.
- What role can Muslim leaders play in confronting Islamophobia issues? By having Muslim students in prominent leadership positions, I believe this can counter Islamophobia by providing a counter-narrative to the stereotypes that many people have. In my case, by being a veiled Muslim woman in this position, I hope I can prove that Muslim women are in fact very confident in their abilities, and worthy of empowerment in leadership positions.
- As the president of the university’s student council, what do you think will make a difference during your presidency? The ultimate goal is to build a healthier Yale University, emphasizing the importance of the 5 pillars of health:
- Physical health, including access to health care and safety on campus
- Mental health, which includes access to mental health resources and the formation of a caring community.
- Community health, which emphasizes racial justice, accessibility and sustainability.
- Academic health, including classroom reform and academic resources.
- Financial health, which highlights equitable financial access to campus resources.