Rame is a recent, welcome addition to the Olin Community. In his new role, he works closely with faculty, staff, and students to foster a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable community through intentional leadership on campus-wide initiatives. Additionally, Rame is tasked with coordinating the college’s compliance with Title IX, and facilitates a series of educational programs designed to spread awareness on topics associated with sexual misconduct, gender discrimination, bystander intervention and affirmative consent. Here he shares his story of how he came to join the Student Affairs and Resources group at Olin .
"College will be the best time of your life!"
That's all I remember hearing my dad say during our drive to the University of California, Santa Barbara for the start of my freshman year. As the first in my family to go college, I had no idea what to expect or even anticipate, beyond the images and storylines I saw on TV and in the movies. On my drive, I could only think about few things:
1) How am I going to figure out what to do for the rest of my life in the next hour before I arrive and;
2) How the heck am I going to explain to my roommate that I am Muslim, that I don't drink alcohol but am still fun… and then try and sneak in the whole being gay part on top of that?
Having no family members to talk to about these big questions, I held on to my dad’s words, and nervously hoped everything would come together. I hoped that, best case scenario, I could request a single and avoid question two completely!
My stomach was in knots and I was completely unsure of where to start. Yet I was determined to make my family proud and be the first to complete college. I scheduled a meeting with my advisor to discuss my academic plans, and in the end decided to double major in bio-chemistry and pharmacology. It felt strategic to major in a field that I already excelled in, and I figured this would give me a good amount of time to acclimate to my new environment.
This plan did not go as I hoped. My time quickly became consumed with labs, extra lectures to make sure I understood the material, and an unrelenting number of quizzes and exams. For a year I constantly went back and forth between class and lab, getting minimal amounts of sleep when my schedule allowed for it. All I can remember is reflecting on what my father had told me, and could not wrap my mind around how this could ever be “the best time of my life.” College was HARD!
At the start of my second year, I was encouraged to take a course outside of my major and explore other offerings on campus, while also fulfilling a few general academic requirements. This was the first time I was introduced to law. I had mixed feelings about branching out of my comfort zone, even if it did give me some breathing room to let go of the lab component to my schedule. Since it did fulfill a few general degree requirements, I decided to give law a shot. Little did I know, this would be a pivotal moment in my academic career. Despite my initial nerves of taking courses outside of the natural sciences, I was instantly fascinated by the lectures and intrigued by the group assignments. I was no longer doing endless equations, but instead engaging in open dialogue with classmates in a welcoming space that embraced opportunities to challenge each other's perspectives. Never having felt this way about a topic before, I began rethinking my passion for the natural sciences and decided to take a few more courses in law and see where they took me.
Two years later, I finally felt I had found my niche at UC-Santa Barbara and declared my Law major. While I knew it would not be easy to switch my major so late in college, I believed that my passion for the field was more important than my fear of leaving behind my prior double major. This academic change not only had a major impact on my coursework, but also on my extracurricular involvements. I was able to create harmony between my academic and social life, finally taking advantage of so many other great opportunities offered on campus.
My two most influential activities were student government and teaching my own course on community policing. I could not believe how much had changed in my four years in college. I finally felt like I had a purpose and could understand my father’s thoughts about college being “the best time of your life.” With a strong passion for helping people, I had already begun taking the theory learned in my classes and applying it to my personal understanding of identity. This took me down a new rabbit hole into the world of diversity education. Looking to blend my academic passions in law and my extracurricular passion in leadership and diversity education, I decided to continue my education and purse a Master’s of Science in Sociology and Psychology.
It wasn’t until I was admitted to grad school that I realized it was okay to have an overarching goal and passion for a field without knowing exactly what professional role I needed to hold in advance. Having an open palette to explore my passions and the legal realm to provide some direction, I decided to continue my career aspirations in higher education and give back to a place that truly changed my outlook on the world. Having grown so much in my time at school, I wanted to serve as a resource and guide for other students looking to explore and develop their identity in a safe and welcoming place.
I’ve now had 10 years to work at many incredible institutions in a multitude of exciting roles, and am happy to join Olin as Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Title IX Coordinator. This role not only blends together everything I am passionate about, but is a true testament to the great things that can come from following your heart and pursing your passions.
You don’t always need a complete map to achieve your goals. Sometimes building one along the way can lead to the most rewarding outcome.