Motivated to make a difference

Saleha Azmi selected for national advisory council

By Amber Stark ’99

Reading. Doing. Networking. Writing. Talking to people. That is how Bowling Green State University student Saleha Azmi wants to spend her days.

“Every single day I want to know I achieved something,” she said.

Since starting at BGSU in the fall of 2014, Azmi has achieved quite a bit. She finished her master’s in media and communication, started a master’s in business administration and started the student chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She is also involved with the India Student Association and World Student Association and served as the vice president of the International Relations Organization, a team of scholarly students who engage in activities on campus to create awareness and initiate discussions on problems and issues of countries around the world.

“So far I’ve been lucky to pursue the things I’m passionate about and love doing,” she said. “I’ve always picked and chosen what I’ve enjoyed.”

Azmi chose to study in the United States because there is a lot of importance given to students’ opinions and critical thinking, which is not necessarily the case in her native India. She picked BGSU after reading about Dr. Srinivas Melkote, a professor in the School of Media and Communication.

After communicating with him via email, and getting more excited about her move, she was sad to find out that she might not get to go to the United States.

“I was dejected when I didn’t receive funding,” she said. “I mentally prepared for Plan B because [coming to BGSU] wasn’t happening.”

Luckily for Azmi, a scholarship came through at the very last minute. Within weeks, she had to pack up her life in India, where she was doing public relations for Bollywood and working at the ZAF Academy, a school in Uttar Pradesh that she founded with her father.

“I was blessed with good opportunities,” Azmi said. “The students we are reaching had no access to school or education. Our purpose is to give little kids a chance to explore what’s outside the world they’re living in.”

This calling extended into the writing of a novel about empowerment and emancipation in India and relates to her role with AAUW.

“Our mission [in AAUW] is to bring people from difference walks of life together to address women’s issues like gender bias, inequity in pay, Title IX and sexual assault,” she said. “It felt really good to be selected for the national Student Advisory Council.”

As a member of the council, Azmi provides advice on programming and events to create awareness for the issues important to the AAUW. She said being on the council has already brought more awareness to BGSU.

One day, Azmi would like to take the educational concepts she’s experienced at BGSU such as creative, independent thinking, back to India. For now, she’s working on her MBA and plans to graduate in August 2017.

“From day one, I loved the program,” she said. “I’m excited every morning to get up and go to school.”

Coming from Mumbai, which has 20 million people, Azmi is considering a larger city than Bowling Green for her first career move.

“The first thing I noticed here was the silence,” she said, adding she was expecting Ohio to be similar to Chicago, because it was nearby. “What I really, really love about BG is the people. They are so supportive, friendly, nice and willing to talk to you.”

After graduation, Azmi has big dreams for her future, maybe even Google in Ann Arbor.

“This is a time of change and adaptation toward a more egalitarian society. It is an exciting time to be in, where technological advancements are making things possible we never dreamt of,” she said. “We need to show more respect and sensitivity to the world. We have so many inspiring leaders, young and women, and I see my self as being a part of that wind of change, modern and forward looking.

“I see myself as a woman in business and leadership, and through my work, I want to encourage and empower women and children to be leaders in their realm and domain.”