NSLS scholarship winner Nasreen Quadir reflects on diversity efforts

Nasreen Quadir
Nasreen Quadir

While working as the manager of a retail store years ago, Nasreen Quadir was in the process of hiring a new team member. Her best candidate almost didn’t land the role because she wore a hijab.

“She was just everything,” Quadir said. “So I thought, why not? She’s the next generation. This is who we’re targeting anyway. She’s the perfect fit. So, when I brought her up to my director, there was some pushback as to how she’d fit in. And I thought, guess what? I’m Muslim too. I just don’t wear a hijab.”

However, Quadir managed to convince her higher-ups to hire the candidate on the basis that a hijab shouldn’t prevent anyone from getting a job.

“It shouldn’t make a difference,” Quadir explained. “So I stated my case. And I said, look, I think she’s the best. I feel like let’s give her a chance. So she went on to be great. She fit right in with our team and just showed a lot of potential. So I was really happy with my decision.”

The experience eventually informed Quadir’s essay that won her a prestigious scholarship from the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), a student leadership honor society with hundreds of chapters across the country.

After her first semester at CUNY SPS to pursue her bachelor’s in business, Quadir was invited to join the NSLS through an invitation she received in the mail. After researching the society, she learned about the one-time $99 membership fee, the online orientation, and additional courses she could enroll in at a cost, she said. Through the society’s online portal, she found the United by Purpose: Building Equitable Leaders Scholarship. Open only to NSLS members, the scholarship awards students for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity in their community.

“This one really stood out to me because it made me question what I’ve done with my life as a leader, how did I make a difference?” Quadir said. “It made me think about the hiring process that I had, and I was able to think about how retail maybe comes off as inclusive, but people higher up may not believe it and it’s up to you as a leader to convince them.”

Quadir never thought she’d get the scholarship, she explained. “It made me realize maybe I have stronger ethics than I ever thought and that I do have to open the door for people.”

As a full-time working adult and part-time undergraduate student, Quadir did not expect to be suited for many scholarships. The financial reward she received will go straight toward her classes, which she pays out of pocket for, she said. Her future career goals involve using her BS in business, which she hopes to obtain by next year, to continue diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, she added.

Aside from the scholarship, Quadir completed two NSLS courses with one more underway, she explained. The courses included weekly tasks and projects on leadership theory, focusing on identifying strengths, practicing motivation, and aiming to become a socially responsible leader. The courses have helped Quadir refresh her managerial skills and reinforce her personal values, she said.

Quadir’s best piece of advice for other students was simple but essential: “The programs that are there, you just have to apply to them and work for them. I think I’m just hoping that my success continues with SPS. I hope that I can continue to grow.”

The Fall 2024 scholarship application period is scheduled to open March 18. More information on how to apply can be found on the NSLS site.

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