Intern, Crowe LLP
As Vijay Khatri begins his term as the first Rustandy endowed dean of the Leeds School, one of his priorities will be getting to know the students and what it is that makes them truly unique.
He’ll have a head start with Fawad Ahmadzai.
Fawad served as the undergraduate representative for the dean’s search committee, which involved gathering input from students on the qualities they wanted in a leader, meeting with the finalists for the position, and organizing and leading discussions between student groups and the candidates.
And while he’s highly involved elsewhere on campus, including as executive vice president of the Muslim Student Association and an intern and career peer in Leeds’ Career Development Office, serving on the search committee has so far been the most formative experience of Fawad’s time in Boulder.
“Being on the search committee was an incredible opportunity to make an impact and contribute to Leeds at a high level,” Fawad said. “It pushed me to learn to communicate effectively with individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, process all their input, and articulate them in a way that helped the school choose the best candidate.”
It’s a set of skills that he expects will be of incredible value to him as he prepares for a career in consulting, a path he discovered as a result of his first-year communication strategy course capstone, which involves doing a consulting project for a real company, in his case, Gilead. Fawad’s team took first place overall, and he worked a summer internship with Crowe LLP, a Chicago-based accounting, technology and consulting firm with an office in Denver.
“I loved the case competition experience—the opportunity to grow intellectually, work in a team, and be able to work on different projects regularly sounded like an interesting career, especially when you add in the opportunity to solve real world problems and maybe travel.”
Fawad is no stranger to travel—his family relocated to the United States from Afghanistan in 2009, returning briefly before permanently settling here two years later. Unsurprisingly, after escaping what he called “a country struck by poverty and torn by war,” Fawad said family is of utmost importance to him.
“I come from a place where very few opportunities are available to people. Moving here to this country, with so many opportunities, has instilled within me the passion and drive to succeed,” he said.
On top of that, he said, are the sacrifices his parents made to get here, and the three younger siblings who look up to Fawad as they approach their own college searches.
“It has been difficult trying to adjust to American life, navigate college, applying to jobs and taking advantage of opportunities, while being a first generation student,” he said. “But it has also taught me a great deal. Hardships challenge you to grow and uncover the best traits within you, and for this reason, I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve experienced throughout my life.”
It’s not just mental challenges, either. A gym rat, Fawad uses physical challenges to motivate himself to improve his focus and potential—whether he’s doing reps in the Rec Center or climbing Colorado’s famed fourteeners.
“My favorite one so far was Mount Bierstadt—it was my first time climbing a fourteener, and I saw mountain goats at the top,” he said. “It was an incredible experience.”