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Public Service Interests Set SPAA Graduate Mohamed Abdelghany (BA'18) on Path to Harvard

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This fall, Mohamed Abdelghany will begin his studies at Harvard Law School – a stark change for the man who enrolled at Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) with dreams of becoming a doctor.

Abdelghany wasn’t focused on public service when he joined RU-N as a student in the Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC), a residential community with a curriculum based on social justice issues and advocacy. He admitted that when he joined the HLLC, he initially didn’t have a strong grasp or appreciation of what it meant to be a part of that community.

“It wasn’t until I had a conversation with HLLC Associate Dean Marta Esquilin that I started to understand the mission of the HLLC and began taking things more seriously,” Abdelghany said.

It was through the HLLC that he became exposed to individuals at all levels who worked in the interest of public service and showed him opportunities to grow as a student and a professional.

“One of the many joys of my career is to participate in and witness firsthand the magical ways that students evolve,” said Timothy Eatman, dean of the HLLC. “Mo has distinguished himself in that regard. His courage and willingness to learn and grow, characteristic of HLLC scholars, is admirable and inspiring. This, coupled with his hunger to be a positive change agent will serve him well throughout his promising career.”

Abdelghany eventually drifted away from biology and toward nonprofit and public administration under the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA). It was through SPAA that he discovered a new niche with the debate team.

“On the debate team, I learned to speak at a fast pace, think at a fast pace, and research interesting issues and topics,” Abdelghany said. As a member of the team, he was a budding star, winning a Rookie of the Year Award from the RU-N debate program as recognition of his contributions.

Among his extracurricular activities, he served as a senator for RU-N’s Student Governing Association where he worked to reform the funding structure for student organizations to ensure that funding was awarded based on merit as opposed to frequency of events.

His early ventures into student politics led to an internship for Cory Booker’s office in Washington, D.C., which prompted him to pursue law school with the goal of becoming a politician.

He was a standout at RU-N, juggling a host of activities and raising his public profile at the university. His achievements earned him a place on the Chancellor’s Commission on Transformation and Diversity where he helped implement changes across campus that supported an increasingly inclusive and culturally competent environment for students.

Recently, he was selected as a Sponsors For Educational Opportunity Fellow with the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He will spend the summer with the firm before his term at Harvard begins.

When Abdelghany reflects on his accomplishments, he credits the support and opportunities that he received at RU-N as being critical to his successes.

“There’s an incredible bunch of people dedicated to getting you where you want to get to and you can’t put a price tag on that. You don’t recognize the importance of that until you get to that place and realize that it wouldn’t have been possible without that support,” Abdelghany said.

Abdelghany is excited to start this next chapter in his life and says after he earns his law degree, he wants to work for a law firm, and then jumpstart his political career in New Jersey where he can serve the needs of the state.