“What matters to you, and why?”
This is a common question asked on University applications and many applicants like to get really creative with their answers. Ziad Ahmed, on the other hand, took the creativity to another level.
His response to the question was: “#BlackLivesMatter”
This was on his application to Stanford University and he didn’t just write it once, he wrote it 100 times on the paper! And you might think “No Way Stanford would let him in!”
Well, you’re wrong because, on Friday, Ahmed was accepted.
“I was actually stunned when I opened the update and saw that I was admitted,” Ahmed wrote in an email. “I didn’t think I would get admitted to Stanford at all, but it’s quite refreshing to see that they view my unapologetic activism as an asset rather than a liability.”
Ahmed shared the story on Twitter and as of right now has over 5000 likes and 2000 retweets.
— Ziad Ahmed (@ziadtheactivist) April 1, 2017
“My unapologetic progressivism is a central part of my identity, and I wanted that to be represented adequately in my application,” Ahmed said.
Stanford hasn’t released any statements about their decision because they “do not discuss student applications.”
Ahmed is a Muslim and he believes that it’s his duty as a Muslim to stand up for the oppressed people of his community.
“To me, to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can’t imagine it being any other way for me,” Ahmed said. “Furthermore, it’s critical to realize that one-fourth to one-third of the Muslim community in America are black … and to separate justice for Muslims from justices for the black community is to erase the realities of the plurality of our community.”
Ahmed wanted to make a statement.
“As an ally of the black community, though, it is my duty to speak up in regards to the injustice, and while this was not a form of ‘activism’ as it was simply an answer in a college application,” he said. “I wanted to make a statement.”
Mainstream activism isn’t new to Ahmed. Besides his close work with Hillary Clinton, he was named a Muslim-American change-maker by Barack Obama. On top of that he was one of the speakers at a TedxTalk in Panama city which you can see here.
And amazingly enough, Stanford isn’t the only University he was accepted into. He was also accepted into Yale and Princeton. Ahmed hasn’t chosen a school yet but he says that he wants to attend one that will strengthen his work as an activist and not stifle it. We shall know which school he chooses by May 1st.
“The insistence on an explanation is inherently dehumanizing,” Ahmed said. “Black lives have been explicitly and implicitly told they don’t matter for centuries, and as a society — it is our responsibility to scream that black lives matter because it is not to say that all lives do not matter, but it is to say that black lives have been attacked for so long and that we must empower through language, perspective, and action.”