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I Wednesday, April 16, 2014 // The Statement
BY ALICIA ADAMCZYK
Reda Jaber is shy. The graduate stu-
dent is soft-spoken and seems nervous to
talk about himself, at least initially. In the
busy lobby of the Ross School of Business,
where he is interviewed, it is questionable
whether the recorder will even pick up his
He doesn't give long-winded answers to
the questions directed his way, an anom-
aly for many people, and especially those
who have accomplished as much as he has.
To say that Jaber's curriculum vitae is
simply impressive would be a disservice.
The Dearborn native graduated with
Highest Distinction from the College of
Literature, Science & the Arts in 2008,
where he attained a 3.98 GPA ("I stayed
away from girls in undergrad," Jaber joked
of the accomplishment), and received a
Masters of Science in Clinical Research
from the School of Public Health in 2011.
In May, he will receive a Masters of
Business Administration from the Ross
School of Business and a Doctor of Medi-
cine from the Medical School.
Reda Jaber is humble. His parents
Mustapha and Salwa, immigrants from
Lebanon, didn't attend college. But they
encouraged Jaber to work hard and pur-
sue his dreams. His older brother, Ryan,
who also attended the University and is
now a physician, is his biggest influence,
although Ryan has only one graduate
degree. When he was young, Reda wanted
to be just like him.
"I didn't grow up with much and I'm
trying to take advantage of the resources
and the situation I've been put in," Jaber
said. "I think it would be a shame for me
not to try to take on multiple projects."
Reda Jaber is a visionary. A 27-year-old
with three graduate degrees is a feat in
and of itself. But it is his extracurricular
achievements that are truly admirable.
Jaber was awarded a $50,000 grant
from the National Institutes of Health
to spearhead research about the preva-
lence of depression and stigma in the
Arab-American community in 2011. The
research, which is still ongoing, led to
expanded availability of mental health
screening tools for over 1,500youths in the
Jaber and his girlfriend, LSA senior
Sara Abraham, are currently writing a
children's book entitled "Visionary Kids"
- just one of the hundreds of items on the
couple's Google Doc to-do list - which
will focus on the life of Steve Jobs and
teach kids the values of creative thinking
"Growing up they teach you about
the traditional careers ... But I wanted
to unlock children's potential early on
when it comes to entrepreneurship," he
Eliciting information from Jaber takes
time. He doesn't boast. But according to
his CV, he has written countless papers
and received numerous awards and dis-
tinctions. He currently has six jobs and
serves on the boards of two different
campus organizations. He can speak and
understand Arabic and is fluent in Span-
Reda Jaber is passionate. When he
discusses MI-Happy, a HIPAA-compli-
ant smartphone app he co-founded that
"engages patients to address a gap in
adherence to mental health treatment
plans," Jaber finally seems comfortable.
In fact, while Jaber eloquently
described his research interests and aca-
demic accomplishments in the medical
and science fields, it's obvious by his smile
and energy that entrepreneurship and
creative problem solving are his true pas-
"I feel like a kid in here," Jaber said,
with a sweeping hand gesture across the
lobby. "There's so many resources, so
many things to do, so many opportunities.
I enjoy it here a lot."
"There's a lot of influences here at the
Business School with my classmates,
especially the entrepreneurially-minded
ones," he added. "I'm really influenced by
their drive in general. The best part of get-
ting an MBA is the people you meet ... it's a
great atmosphere because everyone's try-
ing to help each other."
Reda Jaber is humble. In his free time,
he enjoys playing basketball, watching
movies and attending live comedy shows.
He said he wishes he had the courage to
attempt stand-up, but he doesn't possess
the skills required for the "art form." He
looks up to comedians.
When he explains how he met his girl-
friend at the Fishbowl two years ago, Jaber
cracks a self-conscious grin.
"She was working at the Fishbowl and I
asked her what time the Fishbowl closes,
even though I'd been going to the Fish-
bowl for eight years," he said, laughing. "I
knew when it closed."
After graduation, Jaber will work at
Incwell, a venture capital firm, where he
will be in charge of funding for health-
Beyond that, he hasn't ruled out the
possibility of writing a second children's
book with Abraham or finishing his medi-
cal residency in the future. That's not to
say he won't miss the University, where
he's spent the past six years learning and
growing into the person he is today.
It's the atmosphere provided at a place
like the University that Jaber said allowed
his creativity and vision to take root and
"When you're a student it's one of the
only times where you can experiment with
anything. If you fail as a student, it's not a
big deal," he said. "It's all part of the learn-
Most Michigan Women of Color Collec-
tive (M-WoCC) meetings look simple from
the outside - a group of students seated
in a circle, telling stories and listening.
The meetings, usually held in the Trotter
Multicultural Center, aren't even called
meetings. Instead, members of the collec-
tive typically gather every other week for
informal tea circles - with the group's
administrators responsible for providing
the tea and moderating discussion.
The heart of M-WoCC, what makes the
student organization so significant and
essential, are those discussions.
"We didn't just want to be an (organiza-
tion) that puts on events," said LSA senior
Zeinab Khalil, the co-founder M-WoCC.
"We wanted to be a lifeline - a support
group to bring women together and pro-
vide an affirming, safe space."
Khalil formed the organization with
the help of LSA senior Ciarra Ross and
other students who thought the University
lacked a space reserved for women of color
to voice concerns and personal struggles.
At its inception, the group was simply
designed to give women an opportunity to
be heard. It has since grown to offer those
same women a place where they can delib-
erate and hear each other's opinions about
racial tensions at the University.
"I think we do respond to the recent
debates about race relations, and we come
to the space when things are coming to a
head on campus," Ross said. "This is kind
of our space to just breathe, to say 'OK, this
is a lot right now - BBUM, UMDivest and
a lot of other things that bring us together.
It gives us room to breathe.'"
Ross stated how one of the biggest goals
of M-WoCC is to be able to challenge
women of color to look at themselves and.
their surroundings critically before for-
mulating an opinion.
"We need to be challenged to be consid-
ered a 'true sister friend,' where it ceases
to be about ally-hood and is really much,
much more about sisterhood," Ross said.
"We need to be real with each other and
honest because there can be so much vul-
nerability in the space."
The guidelines M-WoCC has laid out to
define the objectives of the meetings stress
that the members seek to move beyond
a safe space in order to provide a "brave
Khalil and Ross took initial steps to
organize these plans after being tapped
last year by the Order of Angell, an elite
campus leadership society. Though both
chose not to remain a part of Order, the
meeting, and later work over the summer
for Youth Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity
in Metropolitan Detroit inspired them to
"From the first time I met her, Ciarra
inspired me in really, really profound
ways," Khalil said. "This woman is so
unapologetic. Speaking truth to power,
that defines Ciarra - regardless of who
you are, she will hold you accountable, and
that takes so much strength."
Ross has also been an active member
of NOiR since freshman year, an on-cam-
pus fashion organization that combines
runway shows with community service.
This year, she took over as the associa-
tion's president and played an integral role
in organizing their latest runway show,
called "Shameless." She described how
her experiences working with socially
conscious campus groups helped her meet
and be motivated by Khalil, something she
called "the force of Zeinab."
"So I fangirl Zeinab," Ross said. "Zeinab
has been one of those people who got me to
really think critically about a lot of things
I hadn't before. When we met, I remember
one of the first things I recall her saying is
'are you sure about this?' and just her pres-
ence and who she was made me realize 'no
... I'm not.' That's been the impetus of our
friendship - she's just pushed me to think,
through her own thoroughbred activism."
Khalil, an energetic participant in the
UMDivest, described what sets that par-
ticular movement and M-WoCC apart
from many of the other organizations she
has been a part of is a dedication to student
"In the past few years, I have done
organizing and have been involved in stu-
dent orgs. but I've never felt this kind of
empowerment," Khalil explained. "For
M-WoCC, it made me realize that there's
so much power in the collective. It's not a
sign of our weakness - it's evidence of our