by Mychal Miltenberger

For Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Senator Ayham Maadi, the commitment to being a student goes far beyond showing up for class, completing assignments and receiving grades.

“My personal journey here so far has connected me with people,” Maadi said. “I felt like I could contribute heavily and bring a special voice to the student government.”

Maadi is a first-generation Palestinian-American. He said he considers the four years he spent living abroad on the West Bank an indispensable experience that offered him valuable perspective.

Maadi said he is grateful for his parents’ decision to move him and his three siblings to the United States.

“At first, you know, I hated it. It was right after the sixth grade, and no one likes to move,” he said. “But I really look up to (my parents) for seeing the infinite benefit of being a multicultural and a more internationalized citizen of the world because it gives the capacity for empathy for different issues and peoples across the world.”

As a double major in chemical engineering and foreign languages with a minor in mathematics, Maadi agrees that he is not a typical ASUNM senator. He said he aims to make the undergraduate student government more diverse.

“I got involved in student government because I felt like there was an underrepresentation of a certain demographic of students here at the University of New Mexico,” Maadi said. “I felt like I could adequately represent those … from the scientific or (science, technology, math and engineering) fields when it comes to academics.”

While Maadi said he believes student involvement in ASUNM is adequate, he said he also believes that participation comes mostly from a certain demographic of students. He said he seeks to encourage students from a wider variety of academic disciplines and majors to get involved in student government.

“Although an issue might not directly affect a certain group of students — a science major versus a humanities major — I feel that people should adopt an interdisciplinary approach to problems and really be involved in issues that they might not think are for them,” he said. “That is what I encourage.”

Maadi said he believes that bringing different problem solving skills, such as the analytical approach of STEM fields, will benefit the student government, and that “concrete, unbiased data can really help solve an issue.”

Maadi said he believes it is crucial for every student to speak up, regardless of academic discipline.

“I think activism is for everyone,” Maadi said. “I don’t think it’s an exclusive title. I think if people were to forget or get rid of the stigmas behind what kind of person belongs in a role or a leadership role or any kind of ‘make a change’ role, I feel that there would be more understanding about what the issues are and how to go about them.”