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Fourth-year spotlight: Farheena Mustafa

UPC programming chair, RA emphasizes people and passion

As a four year member and membership chair of University Programs Council, a resident advisor and an Alternative Spring Break participant, it’s safe to say fourth-year College student Farheena Mustafa had plenty of opportunities during her four years at the University to touch the lives of many students.

“[Farheena] makes everyone feel so welcome … she always has time for people,” third-year College student EricaJoy Oliverio said. “Every stranger for her is just a friend she hasn’t met yet.”

Mustafa said she credits her amazing experience at the University not only to the things she did but also the people she met along the way.

“I’ve spent moments with people, forming bonds and growing in relationships and friendships, and for me that has impacted me the most,” Mustafa said.

Mustafa said her involvement in UPC helped her to grow the most.

“I was challenged in a really cool way [and] learned more about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader,” Mustafa said. “You’re putting on these huge events, and it requires some organization, and you have to be very communicative … [so] in terms of professional and leadership development, UPC takes the cake.”

Oliverio, who will serve as UPC programming chair for the 2016-17 school year, met Mustafa at the beginning of her first year.

“[She] was the first person … to really reach out to me,” Oliverio said. “She’s the one who encouraged me to join the organization.”

Mustafa and Oliverio got to know each other as they served on the UPC membership committee, governing council and executive board together.

“You can tell with everything that [Mustafa] does that she’s devoted her time to it, and it’s kind of remarkable,” Oliverio said. “I feel honored as an organization that we’re something she chose to invest her time in.”

As UPC membership chair, Mustafa organized training for the new members.

“This past year, she was … the only person in the entire organization who [knew] every person’s name,” Oliverio said.

Regarding her other involvements, Mustafa said being an RA was a life-changing experience.

“You become involved in 20 lives very early on, and there’s like this natural bond that forms, and you automatically become a part of someone’s support system,” Mustafa said. “It really, really taught me a new level of appreciation for how powerful building a relationship can be in someone’s life. It was just a really cool thing to experience and be a part of.”

Mustafa also helped organize the University’s first Suicide Prevention Walk in April, participated in St. Baldrick’s — shaving her head and raising money to benefit cancer patients — and studied abroad in Lyon, France. Through her involvement, Oliverio said Mustafa was a “a ray of light.”

Mustafa will cherish the people she has met and the relationships she’s formed at U.Va. upon graduating.

“You meet such amazing people in your four years, and people who are so open to learning and being challenged,” Mustafa said. “You cross paths with people from all walks of life. I think that we take it for granted a lot.”

During her four years, Mustafa came to realize “it’s very easy to feel like you have to fit into a mold when you come to U.Va.”

“The standards of success are so kind of put in your face, and I think I’ve very much gone against the grain in terms of that,” Mustafa said. “I’ve done things that I’ve [been] truly passionate about.”

Mustafa was recognized by multiple secret societies for her contributions to the University community this year, and she thinks her drive to stay true to herself and choose projects that she feels passionate about has enabled her to contribute so much to the University during her time here.

Looking forward, Mustafa doesn’t have concrete plans for the near future.

“I am kind of relaxing,” Mustafa said. “I’m going to take time for myself … [and] do some light traveling with my family and my friends. I think it’s refreshing to hear that someone doesn’t have it all figured out, and you don’t have to!”

Mustafa said she was “very happy” with her four years here, and her parting advice to current University students is simple.

“Don’t worry about doing U.Va. right,” Mustafa said. “Worry about doing college right by your own terms. Do what you love. Do it because you love it … You define your own success. You define your own happiness.”