Class of '24: Business grad uses empathy to measure success

May 08, 2024

Each year, ϲʲͼ’s Marketing & Communications department profiles members of the graduating classes. Students chosen were nominated by staff and faculty for their contributions to the life of the University. Click here for more information about 2024 commencement exercises.

As a child of immigrants living in upstate New York post 9/11, Nisha Miah saw the effects of racism and financial uncertainty her parents endured, and the toll it took on their mental health.

"As a child I wasn't supposed to see certain things, and I wasn't supposed to experience certain emotions, but I did,” she said, recalling those years. “I witnessed things that I knew my friends did not see, because my friends didn't have to deal with them."

Miah's tumultuous upbringing has led her to a deep sense of empathy for people and has shaped who she is today. While exploring colleges, Miah, who goes by Ivy, said, "I was looking for a very specific type of university, one that would cater to my long history of nonprofit work and volunteering."

A Business Administration major with a minor in Leadership, Miah "wanted my education to actually be utilized in the real world. It didn’t matter whether I studied business, political science, even art; whatever I chose to study, I wanted to be sure the knowledge I gained could be used for some force for good."

When she read ϲʲͼ's  mission statement and vision during her college search, she knew it was where she needed to be.

"I was led to apply because there were so many niche opportunities that really aligned with what I wanted to do,” she said.

"When I talk to prospective students one on one, I ask them, 'what is your definition of success?' Then I tell them to take that definition and completely erase any idea they have of success -- whether it be that CEO position, working at Google, making a certain amount of money -- and think of success as your own personal development and growth."

The way Miah sees it, UDM requires students to become a member of the community, which is a good thing. 

“I think that that forcefulness is something that opens students' eyes to a whole new perspective. Here, students gain a sense of humility, understanding their privileges and understanding the concept of empathy, which is critical during the time of university where you're actually developing that frontal lobe and developing who you are."

When speaking to prospective students at Visit Day, Miah tells them, "If you want to see the knowledge acquired be a force for good, I truly cannot recommend any other place than right here, because it's not only encouraged, but each professor I have had ensures that their curriculum has some type of ethical component to it.

"Professors make sure that it's 1% textbook, 99% projects/real-world simulations, making you do things outside of the classroom that apply those concepts of business to the real world."

Those real-world simulations have translated into competitions in which Miah has participated throughout her time at UDM.

During her freshman year, she participated in the Michigan Colleges Alliance MC3 competition and devised an educational game to teach financial literacy to low-income ϲʲͼ youth.

"I was playing the 'Sims' video game at the time and thought it would be a great idea if this was educational, because people of all ages are obsessed with 'Sims.'" Her team worked the entire year, partnering with a local nonprofit to create a business proposal for "Cashtopia," a simulated video game in which elementary school students create an avatar that is taught financial literacy through game play. As that avatar grows older, it learns more advanced concepts of financial literacy. Her team won third place overall in the state of Michigan.

Another competition she took part in recently was the International Business Ethics and Sustainability Competition, where she and her team went to Los Angeles and competed against 33 global universities. Miah took first place in the category of 90-second presentation, while her team took second place in the 25-minute presentation category. 

When asked what she learned most about her community service work, she’s quick to answer. "Empathy. And acknowledging the importance of humility and the importance of wisdom. These are the three canons that I learned very quickly would dictate my life."

However, she does not like to call her community service 'volunteering.'

"This is my job as a human being,” she said. “This is my job as somebody who's supposed to care for my global community. I would have nothing if it were not for the other members of society. The clothes I wear were sewn by somebody in a country that I will never ever go to. The food I have was made by farmers who are paid 25 cents a day. Everything I have is from the hands of another. So, I don’t see this as volunteering. I see it as my duty as a human citizen of this earth to you, another human citizen."

Upon graduation, Miah plans to secure a job with a nonprofit while also pursuing her master's or Ph.D., which she would like to do at UDM. Public speaking is also in her wheelhouse, and she has a passion for it. "I've done it my whole life," she said.

Her hopes and dreams for the future are truly multifaceted and are connected to helping people and her community, which stands at the heart of the UDM mission.

"I would love to be an intellectual and academic one day, somebody who is able to teach others and open their eyes to experiences that are far beyond their own experiences and instill that idea of humility, the importance of wisdom, and the number one thing, empathy,” she said. “I'm hoping to be the person who can impart those positive, powerful tenets for change."

Her idea of success may not be typical of young people graduating from college.

“It does not look like the ideal: a big house, a nice car,” she said. “My idea of success is having made an impact on the people around me, the people that love me and care for me, and having developed beautiful relationships and connections."

By Julie A. Erwin. Follow ϲʲͼ Mercy on , ,  and . Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.