After crossing over international borders since being less than a month old, Manik Elahi now wishes to cross new personal boundaries as freshman class president.
“I feel like it’s important to seize every moment which comes about and this is one of those moments,” said Elahi about running for the top freshman seat.
According to Elahi, his life perception changed when his mother died of a brain hemorrhage when Elahi was seven. “When things happen that suddenly, that’s when realized how fragile life is,” he said.
Despite taking short business trips with his father, a Japanese car importer, since infancy, the loss of his mother caused Elahi to leave Tokyo and live across the world. “That sort of opened my perspective on a lot of things. A lot of norms are broken. A lot of stereotypes are broken,” said Elahi.
He believes his experience overseas helps him better relate to international students at the college, through culture and language. “I had to learn a lot of different languages … not by choice but by necessity,” he said. While growing up across the globe, Elahi learned how to speak English, Urdu and Punjabi.
While travelling around the world, Elahi became inspired by his father. According to the international student, his father, who grew up in poverty, entered the automotive business at the age of 16. “I personally believe that I’m self-made. I never took any help from anybody to get to where I am,” said Elahi.
Before coming to the college, Elahi’s last experience in a leadership position was as high school senate president at Beacon House in Pakistan. “Leadership is not confined to giving orders. I find that I’m a soldier in all this,” he said. While living in Pakistan, Elahi also worked with the Red Cross for relief efforts in the wake of the 2013 Pakistan–Afghanistan floods.
After entering the country last year, Hudson Valley wasn’t originally part of his plan. Elahi originally had his eyes set on Stonybrook University until a close friend convinced him to cut costs by attending a community college. While waiting for his visa to arrive last year, Elahi searched through two-year schools across the state before settling on Hudson Valley.
“I honestly believe that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I went to Stonybrook,” said Elahi. He said starting at Hudson Valley provided him with a window to socially adjust to college life through the Student Senate.
Elahi, who has previously worked on the senate’s performing committee has been exploring student interest across campus for a music club. He has also been working with Joshua Dator to put together a public speaking club as a way to help students improve oratory skills.
Although he was involved in the senate last year, according to Student Senate eligibility policy, any student who has completed fewer than 28 credits is able to run in the freshman elections.
Two weeks ago, Elahi put together “The People’s Party” with Brandon Nugent and Saydou Bonsa in an effort to push unified goals in the senate while running for freshman seats. “If anybody is interested and has the same ideals as us, they can definitely approach us,” said Elahi.
According to Elahi, the party’s platform is built around promoting events that would provide freshman students opportunities to socialize with other students and currently believes . “When somebody wants to do something on this campus as a student activity and we can’t provide that, that hurts me,” he said.