By Wyatt Bush
For Bangladesh native Shaminul Shakib, the transition to life on campus at an American university was far from easy.
Now, though, the most frustrating aspect of living in Mount Pleasant is the weather.
“I can’t stand the snow at all, the weather here can get really rough,” Shakib said. “It’s crazy driving out here in the winter.”
Since arriving at Central Michigan University in fall 2012 to pursue his education, Shakib was able to overcome his initial homesickness and decided he wanted to be a leader in CMU’s international community.
He almost immediately became a prominent figure in the International Student Organization, an RSO with the aim of promoting multiculturalism and cross-cultural relations and understanding between students.
During his freshman year, Shakib acted as ISO’s events coordinator. But by sophomore year, his compatriots elected him president of the organization.
His tenure saw the creation of the ISO Food Festival, which consisted of a variety of international cuisine in addition to a “Fear Factor”-like exotic food tasting competition.
“I pretty much repeated everything the previous eBoard did before me,” Shakib joked. “But my favorite addition was the food festival. My goal was to bring the different culture RSOs together and do something really interesting.”
He stepped down this year from his role as ISO president to pursue another leadership role: Board member on the International Student Advisory Board.
The ISAB is as a coalition of leaders from the international student body that provides input and voices concerns to the Office of International Affairs. It is, in essence, the international equivalent of the Student Government Association.
And with CMU’s international student population rapidly expanding, it’s a position that’s more important than ever on campus.
One person impressed by Shakib’s efforts is another ISAB board member, Srikanth Seelam, former president of the Indian Students Association.
“He’s very patient, very collaborative and really good at explaining things,” Seelam said. “He’s capable of carrying the values of multiple international organizations.”
Students directly affected by Shakib include fellow Bangladeshi international Golam Mainuddin.
Mainuddin, a graduate student at CMU, said Shakib helped make his jump from Bangladesh to Michigan much easier through communicating, sharing cultural experiences and talking with him on almost any subject imaginable. He praised Shakib’s efforts in involving students of all values and ethnicities in a variety of organizations to work with CMU and the community.
“His biggest strengths are communicating with people, understanding their values and showing respect to all,” Mainuddin said.
When he is not assisting others or acting as a megaphone for internationals, Shakib, an economics and finance major, said he enjoys a plethora of activities ranging from listening to Daft Punk to meditatively driving on long stretches of roads and highways.
“I like to hit the SAC, I love playing pool, and I have been playing a lot of tennis lately, which is fun,” Shakib said. “I also love watching ‘Friends’ when I am having dinner or something, It still cracks me up.”
Shakib said if he were to bet, he would likely return to Dhaka, his hometown, in the future, despite having a sister who attends Michigan State University and an uncle based in Sterling Heights.
In the meantime, though, he is interested in staying put and pursuing a graduate’s degree in health economics in order to prepare for a hopeful role as a health economist with the United Nations.
Regardless, Shakib said he has thoroughly enjoyed his time studying overseas, especially because of the modest curriculum and campus size of CMU.
“The best thing about CMU is that the academic pressure and social life is balanced out and not at the very far end of any spectrum,” Shakib said. “I can focus on academics and at the same time, I can do all these clubs and have a leadership role in the community.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the proper spelling of Shakib’s hometown, Dhaka, and to correctly report his uncle’s hometown, Sterling Heights.