Get the Strap


Meet the Pakistani-American Who Went From Community College to Harvard Law School

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Saeed Ahmad still remembers how naysayers would mock him when he would tell them about his plans to attend community college after high school. Many would highlight the negative stereotypes associated with the institution and dissuade him from even considering it. However, Ahmad had a plan. Because he was not as focused or goal oriented during his high school years, he knew that community college would give him the fresh start he needed to achieve his goals.
Ahmad’s goals were not only limited to ending the negative stereotypes associated with community college. He also wanted to end the negative stereotypes associated with his various identities! Growing up in the Inland Empire, he could not help but notice how many of his peers were hesitant or even ashamed to say they were from the region. And as a Pakistani-American/Muslim, decades of negative media portrayal had created stereotypes around his identity that Ahmad wanted to eliminate. Armed with the broad goal of eliminating negative stereotypes associated with his diverse identities, Ahmad enrolled into Norco College with a pre-law/business career track.
Ahmad’s time in Norco College turned out to be one of the best times of his academic career. And he noted how many of the negative stereotypes associated with the community college system were completely false. At Norco College, he interacted with amazing faculty, administrators, and peers that made his time there a success. While maintaining an almost perfect GPA, Ahmad was also heavily involved with programs such as Honors and the Pre-Law Society.
2 years of hard work resulted in Ahmad gaining admission into UCLA for matriculation in Fall 2018. However, the negative stereotypes associated with community college still lingered. Ahmad was rejected from various pre-law programs and student organizations during his first year at UCLA. While he had innovative ideas, it seemed like his status as a transfer curtailed him. It was these turn of events that prompted Ahmad to revitalize the Pre-Law Transfer Society at UCLA during his second (and final) year at the institution. By choosing an entirely transfer executive board, Ahmad wanted to showcase what a team of transfers were capable of!
And showcase they certainly did. In less than a year, the Pre-Law Transfer Society at UCLA became one of the most successful organizations on the UCLA campus. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, they were still able to host workshops and zoom events that featured some of the most successful attorneys, entrepreneurs, and CEOs from across the country. By the time Ahmad graduated in June of 2020, he was already preparing his law school application! He went on to submit his application to Harvard Law School a couple of months after graduation, nervously awaiting a response.
It was during mid February that Ahmad received the big news- he had been admitted into Harvard Law School! After accepting the admission offer, he has been hard at work preparing for his Fall 2021 matriculation. Ahmad is also currently working as a Client Advisor at the Louis Vuitton store on Rodeo Drive, where he will remain until moving to Cambridge.
While Ahmad is not completely sure what area of the law he will practice after graduation, his goal of eliminating negative stereotypes and serving as an inspiration continues. He strives to see a future where community college transfers, Pakistani-Americans, Muslims, and anyone who has overcome adversity proudly identifies as positive representations of their respective identities.
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