Chanel Shirazi, 21, is a senior at George Mason University, where she is majoring in conflict analysis and resolution. Shirazi is the assistant to the executive director at George Mason Hillel — she started working there part-time this semester. She is also a resident assistant and a mentor for InvestinYOUTH.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different but … I am usually in the Hillel office for most of my day. Besides when I do have to go to classes, I will be in the Hillel office, at a Hillel student board meeting, or often what I’m doing is meeting up with student leaders of different organizations on campus.
Toward the end of the day at some point I’m picking up food on campus, and then I’m a resident assistant so I’m sometimes pulling together programs for my floor.
I try to then take it easy at night but usually I’ll be working [on homework or work for Hillel].
What I think I’m going to get done, I don’t, and what I don’t think I was going to get done, I get done.
What’s your time management secret?
Honestly it’s a lot about charisma and optimism. Sometimes it does feel like my academics are second priority, but then I realize I’m a senior and I’m doing things I care about. I’m keeping up with my grades and I’m not letting it slip and I feel like I’m making a difference with the work that I’m doing.
On the weekend I’m dedicating a day to career building and resume building.
Tell me about your major.
Conflict analysis and resolution is giving students the tools and the techniques to be able to go out and do peacebuilding. Peacebuilding is a very broad term that I use, but I truly believe that that’s what it is.
[In many situations,] they’ll be able to identify what a root problem is. A lot of people want to get their law degrees … other people want to become social workers.
People often compare it to political science and government, but it’s very different. It’s very much about peacebuilding, it’s about identifying a community and how you can work with it to help it achieve its strongest potential.
What do you want to do after college?
Nothing is set, but I really love school and I really love learning and I acknowledge that, so my goal is to eventually come back to school for a master’s or PhD. I’m thinking higher education or Judaic studies.
What makes you interested in education?
The reason I was thinking about higher education is because I really enjoy working in a college setting with young adults. I truly am such a strong believer that cognitive growth and cultural competency skills are developed in these years.
What is your favorite part of working with students?
I love when students are able to engage in a deep intellectual conversation and I love practicing self-reflection. That’s something we do a lot in conflict analysis, but [I like] especially when I’m able to be part of a conversation where I see someone is becoming a critical thinker.
[As a resident assistant,] I’ve been able to see some of my past residents and what they’re doing now and I feel very proud of them. I feel like I was a mother … watching my children. I have some residents who are involved in student government or cultural associations and it’s really awesome to see them pick up their own passion.
What else should our readers know about you?
When people ask me “Who are you?” especially in a Jewish context, I feel like my diverse identity has really pushed me to where I am. Being a mix of an Ashkenazi and Mizrachi Jew, and female and coming from out of state. I grew up in a household with lots of women — three generations.
I would encourage anyone reading this to appreciate their own background, their own Jewish story, and just make the most of it because that’s what inspires me today.
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