Husky Unleashed - An entrepreneurial approach to cultural immersion
Sultan Riaz felt so at home at Bloomsburg University in his four years as an undergraduate, he decided to stay longer and pursue a Masters of Business Administration degree.
And he is making his time on campus count.
Riaz, a former student employee of the year, has already made waves in the regional business field and has helped further introduce the Muslim culture to Bloomsburg, while spreading awareness and education on Islam. With less than a year remaining, he is focused on firmly establishing his imprint on campus and path to professional success.
“If you had asked me my freshmen year if I would be in the M.B.A. program, I’d say no way,” says Riaz, who graduated in 2010 with a degree in business administration and marketing. “The teachings and experience I’ve gotten cannot be replaced. With so many influential people on campus and opportunities to expand and advance yourself as a student, this place is such a perfect fit.”
Riaz also credits the quality of an accredited education, small class size, affordable tuition — and of course — the working relationships built with the faculty as reasons why he felt BU was the best option for an undergraduate and graduate degree.
“You’re able to form good relationships, lasting relationships,” Riaz says. “That makes it so comfortable here. Having a chance to know your professors and classmates so well not only makes it easier to learn the material, but fun too.”
And the icing on the cake, according to Riaz, a strong connection to successful alumni — which comes to fruition each fall with the Zeigler Institute for Professional Development (ZIPD) Business Conference.
“Just being in a room with so many (business) executives was very influential,” Riaz says. “You see how far they came and the fact they came form BU, really makes you proud of where you’re going to school. I now know there’s a very good future for me, especially with so many successful alums out there ready to help me.”
In fact, Riaz connected with an alumnus last year through the ZIPD conference. That relationship blossomed. Through advice, Riaz helped a local start-up Internet company that assists regional business to book musicians expand its reach to connecting artists and towns across the globe. Through networking, Riaz landed a future internship.
Classroom and professional success aside, Riaz says he is most proud of the cultural impact he has had at BU.
“When I came here, there wasn’t a very big population of Muslims or a place where Muslims could pray,” Riaz says. “Plus, there was a big misconception of Islam. So I made it a point to help bring Islam closer to the campus community.”
Riaz spearheaded a project to establish a prayer room on campus for Muslims to conduct their weekly prayers. He also helped student organizers to create the Muslim Student Association, as well as continuing to mentor the group with occasional lectures and leading in prayer.
“I want to people to understand Islam is not a violent religion,” Riaz says. “I’m very thankful to the campus ministry and university to be able to get that message across campus. The population of Muslims on campus has bee growing. When I first came here, there were about four to five Muslims. Today, there are more than 45 active Muslim students. They feel accepted and are happy about attending school at Bloomsburg.”