Senior Zahra Aalabdulrasul reimagines the scope of business inclusion initiatives

Senior Zahra Aalabdulrasul reimagines the scope of business inclusion initiatives

Gabriela Rivera, associate director of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the business college, said Aalabdulrasul has been essential in helping to elevate the conversation around diversity in Tippie. “Tippie is far, far below even the University of Iowa,” Aalabdulrasul said. “We want to get far past even that number.” “Personally, for me, she’s been someone I really admire for being so open to sharing her cultural and religious background,” Rivera said. “She has inspired us to do better.”

“The goal of is to help students find success,” Aalabdulrasul said. “It’s very tight-knit.” Aalabdulrasul first got involved in BizEdge, a mentoring program that pairs underrepresented first-year Tippie students with upperclassmen mentors. In this position, she worked to improve the operations of the program.

But Aalabdulrasul wanted to do more to expand business opportunities for Black and Brown students. Black students make up around 0.15 percent of student enrollment in the business college, compared to 3.1 percent at the UI. But this time, Aalabdulrasul said, she was determined to take action to represent students like herself.

“I stepped back from specific programs and really looked at Tippie as a whole,” Aalabdulrasul said. After assessing data and crunching numbers, Aalabdulrasul found three overarching problems that limit business opportunities for Black and Brown students. She also identified three solutions to address these problems. As a diversity, equity, and inclusion ambassador in Tippie, Aalabdulrasul said she has assessed the climate in the business college and identified barriers preventing Black and Brown students from pursuing business and professional education.

“Professors have been more receptive to what underrepresented students are saying,” Rivera said. Rivera added that the impacts of Aalabdulrasul’s innovative work has already been felt within the halls of the business college.

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