George Mason University

News at Mason

For freshman, serving the community is personal

February 8, 2019   /   by Damian Cristodero

"It's something personal to me," Raheel Tauyyab said of being involved in the community. "It's just something I've always felt is important to do."

During the federal government shutdown, Tauyyab helped his Muslim youth group pick up trash and empty wastebaskets on the National Mall. Photo by Lathan Goumas.

Raheel Tauyyab couldn’t pinpoint exactly when, or how, he developed his willingness and desire to participate in community service.

Perhaps it was from his parents, who always taught that it is right to help the less fortunate. Perhaps it was from his religion, a movement of Islam called the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which preaches, as Tauyyab explained, “love for all, hatred for none.”

“It’s something personal to me,” Tauyyab said of being involved in the community. “It’s just something I’ve always felt is important to do.”

So there was the George Mason University freshman in January, as part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, picking up litter on the National Mall and emptying trash cans that were left to overflow during the partial government shutdown.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Tauyyab, who is majoring in economics and government and international politics, and members of his youth organization put together meal packages they plan to distribute to families whose food stamp benefits are threatened by the shutdown.

“He has a seriousness and purpose about him, and he has a sincerity to learn from the world,” said Sumaiya Hamdani, an associate professor of history who taught Tauyyab in her HIST 281 Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization class. “That trait, not surprisingly, will lead you down the path to civic engagement and community support.”

Tauyyab, who lives in Chantilly, Virginia, said he came to Mason because of the reputation of its economics program and of the Schar School of Policy and Government.

He said he likes the small class sizes, and staying close to home allows him to continue working with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.

“It was important for me to stay connected to that organization,” Tauyyab said. “I can still do the stuff I was doing before and still get a good education. It’s a good balance.”

Mason also has resources that will help his career development, Tauyyab said. With aspirations to work in public affairs or perhaps even hold public office, Tauyyab said he has joined the Schar School Undergraduate Student Organization and wants to eventually join Mason’s nationally recognized forensics team.

“Everything I’m working for gets me to that point,” he said of his career goals.

“He was a dream student,” Hamdani said. “He was not only someone who came to class and was prepared but also was someone who demonstrated engagement with the material and a desire to learn.”