Firas Darwish is Palestinian-Jordanian, but was born and raised in Abu Dhabi. Coming from a high school where he saw the impact of its student government on students, Darwish was keen to recreate the support he felt here at NYU Abu Dhabi as a first-year representative.
Representing the First Years
As a first-year representative, Darwish is responsible for planning and shaping first-year activities, as well as representing the first-year student body. From weak cellular networks on campus to matters regarding academics, Darwish advocates first-year students’ concerns with different departments at the University. “It's really doing all things first-year related, whether it be communicating on their behalf, or planning things on their behalf, and making sure that they really enjoy the first year,” Darwish said.
First Years Resources
Darwish explained that there are plenty of resources available at NYUAD and named a few that may be helpful to first-year students.
Not many first-year students consider engaging with NYUAD’s Career Development Center (CDC) this early on in their college life, but the CDC has resources for sharpening resumés and hosts networking sessions for developing internship relationships. “When you’re in your junior or senior year… you would already have some sort of bridge that connects you to people in different careers,” Darwish said.
The University also has various resources available to support students’ mental health. Students can consult the NYUAD health center, wellness center, and the student success department for a range of support for anything from insomnia, diet changes, and fitness, to academic stress and time management.
The Nook, a program designed specifically for students, is a one-to-one peer-support program that provides a safe space for students who would like to talk about something anonymously. It bridges the gap between an informal chat with a friend and a more structured conversation with a staff counselor.
Making the First Year Easier
The role of First Year Representative is a big commitment especially for a first-year student who is still navigating a new landscape. While it is something that takes up a lot of his time during the week, Darwish knows the importance of his role to support the students. “My home is 20 minutes from campus and still I feel like I'm in a really new, complex environment where I need to navigate. So I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for other students who don’t live here,” Darwish explained. “I just wanted to try and do whatever I can to sort of make the year a lot easier for these students,” he added.