Colin Powell School
Class of 2023 Salutatorian Shahmir Zaidi
Please tell us about your background?
I have always been a disciplined, highly motivated, and optimistic individual. After finishing high school, I knew I had to explore the world, learn about new cultures, celebrate differences, and improve myself to become a better human being. Hence, I came to the United States from Pakistan with high hopes of not only becoming independent but also exposing myself to a whole new life experience. It was a challenging freshman year in a new college and a completely new city. However, with perseverance and determination, I was able to obtain scholarships, fellowships, and internships in the next three years. I walked the streets of New York, gained valuable experiences and knowledge, and even became the salutatorian. I feel immensely fortunate and appreciate the committee for this honor.
Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to the Colin Powell School?
Choosing to study at CCNY, one of the top three colleges for socio-economic mobility, was a clear choice for me. Being part of the Colin Powell School was an incredible experience. Pursuing Economics as my major and Management & Administration as my minor was the perfect fit for me, and I'm convinced that no other school in CCNY could have provided me with such excellent academic and professional achievements as CPS did. The multitude of exceptional opportunities offered by CPS allowed me to grow professionally and learn something new every week.
What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
CCNY is an esteemed institution that has a rich history of providing top-notch education to its students. I chose CCNY because of its unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. With students hailing from more than 150 countries, CCNY boasts a diverse student body. Furthermore, CCNY has earned a reputation for academic excellence and has had the privilege of producing 12 Nobel Laureates.
How has CPS helped you in your career?
The support I received from the Colin Powell School and the Dean's office has been invaluable throughout my college journey. Thanks to their generous scholarships and fellowships, I was able to pursue my education without financial burden. The school also provided a wide range of internship opportunities that helped me gain practical experience in my field of study. Additionally, I was able to participate in an industry mentor program through the Colin Powell School, which provided valuable guidance in improving my resume, cover letters, and interview skills. I'm grateful for the Dean's office for always encouraging me to push myself and never give up, which ultimately led to me landing a job in my desired field.
What are your post graduate plans?
I graduated in December 2022 and have started working as an Associate Risk Analyst at AIG. I aim to continue working for my company and make a positive impact on my colleagues and the financial services industry. Furthermore, I also aim to create a foundation that works for the welfare of humanity, when I am capable of doing so.
Accomplishments at CCNY?
Getting selected for the Boudreau Fellowship — recognizes two students with outstanding academic achievements who are studying finance — was a huge honor for me.
What advice would you share with current students?
I would advise believing in oneself at all times, even when everything seems to be going the opposite way. It is important to maintain a positive mindset and have faith that everything will fall into place perfectly when the time comes. Dream big, even if others call you delusional, and work tirelessly to make those dreams a reality. Our dreams are not meant to be realistic until we make them happen. As a dreamer, I believe that every person on this planet has a purpose, and it is our responsibility to find that purpose and make it grow into something amazing that can benefit others.
Living a life for oneself can lead to a lack of motivation, but living a life for others ensures that people around you are happier, healthier, and more inspired. We should all strive to make a positive impact on the world by using our privilege and resources to help those less fortunate. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that the wealth we generate is circulated in society and used to help those in need, such as providing shelter for the homeless and feeding hungry children.
We all have the power to change the world, but we need to find our purpose, put in the effort, and be the right people when our time comes to shine. We live in a special time with vast resources to solve many problems, including world hunger. We only need the right people to step up and make it happen. So, if you can dream and convince yourself that it will happen, then it's just a matter of time until you see your dreams come to fruition.
How would you describe CPS in three words?
Opportunity - Diversity - Compassion