Brandywine Student Spotlight: Lamia Kamal

Girl sitting on a bench wearing a cheetah print shirt and pink hijab
Credit: Penn State

Major: Psychology

Minor: Human Development and Family Studies

Year: Third

Involvement: Founder and president of the Bangladesh Student Association; co-president of the Muslim Student Association; vice president of the Multicultural Club; peer mentor for the Multilingual and International Student Program; member of the Nittany Christian Fellowship; member of the Sustainability Club; member of DMAX; member of the Brandywine Dance Team; member of the Psychology Club; student worker for the Chancellor’s suite; student worker for the Vairo Library

Brandywine: Why did you choose Penn State Brandywine?

Lamia Kamal: I chose to attend Penn State Brandywine because when I came here on a tour, I saw the environment and how small the campus was, so I thought it was a great opportunity for me to make connections and everything. I was lucky enough to get accepted to Penn State. That was one of my first acceptance letters, and I was so happy. I didn't even think twice.

Brandywine: How did you pick your major?

Lamia Kamal: Honestly, it wasn't that hard for me to pick my major. One of the reasons I picked psychology is because when I was young, I suffered from different mental illnesses, but I never received any clinical or professional help because of the stigma in our Asian culture. I really just wanted to help people because I saw people around me were suffering, but they were suffering silently and wouldn't want to talk about it or didn't have the resources. I thought it is a good opportunity for me to help people who need it.

I remember back in high school when I was struggling so much after losing both my grandparents the same year back-to-back, I couldn't keep up with my schoolwork. I was going through a lot of mental health issues, so I reached out to my guidance counselor to talk about it. They called my parents, and they explained how mental health is just like any other sickness, so you need to take care of it as you would for any other disease.

Brandywine: What challenges have you faced at Brandywine, if any?

Lamia Kamal: Well, my first year was all during the pandemic, so my major issues were getting my assignments done, accessing Canvas or paying attention during Zoom classes. Since everything was virtual, it was really easy to get distracted and not pay attention. I lost somebody during that time as well, so that impacted my academics. I just was miserable. Thankfully, when we got to come back in person, I made connections and got involved in extracurricular activities, and the faculty here are so nice. Their contribution to my journey has been amazing.

Brandywine: How has Penn State Brandywine supported you, and who at Brandywine supported you the most?

Lamia Kamal: My biggest supporter has been Professor (Debbie) Ousey, the coordinator for the Multilingual and International Student Programs. I met her during my first year of college and through Zoom, and she was really nice to me, and I fell in love with her kindness, and I really knew that she was somebody I could trust. Through her, I got the opportunity to be a peer mentor. I also got the opportunity to be an orientation leader for international students. She gave me so many great opportunities.

Also, my professors, Associate Teaching Professor of Psychology Joshua Marquit, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Ben Park, Associate Professor of Psychology Daniela Martin and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Jennifer Zosh, have been very supportive. Without their help, I wouldn't have been where I am today. My coworkers and my best friends, they help me to overcome all the problems I was facing or encourage me. I am so grateful and fortunate that all my high school friends are here too. Lastly, I am grateful to the staff in the chancellor's suite because they taught me how to develop my strength, teamwork skills and self-resilience.

Brandywine: What inspired you to join the Multicultural Club? Why did you choose to become vice president?

Lamia Kamal: I wasn't really involved in a lot of things back in high school, but I knew that I wanted to be involved in a lot of things when I'm in college. Right after the pandemic, there was a Diwali celebration, and that's when I discovered that there is a Multicultural Club. Also, honestly, I love diversity. I grew up in a place with a diverse community. I just wanted to be a part of the Multicultural Club because Brandywine is so diverse, and I wanted to celebrate all those cultures and get involved.

Becoming the vice president was interesting. The previous president stepped down, so there were elections for the next one. Since I was treasurer previously, I wanted to try to become president. Since that role went to someone else, I became the vice president.

Brandywine: What inspired you to create the Bangladesh Student Association at Brandywine?

Lamia Kamal: I saw that we have a Bangladeshi flag here and we have a large Bangladeshi student population, but our culture isn’t represented very much. So, I wanted to create a club to celebrate Bangladeshi students and their culture. Of course, other students from other cultures can become a member of this club. Also, there are Bangladesh Student Associations at other Penn State campuses, even at University Park. Since we didn’t have it, I thought it would be a great opportunity to create one on campus.

Brandywine: What are you most looking forward to with the Bangladesh Student Association?

Lamia Kamal: We’re planning on doing a lot of events in the future. We’re going to have movie nights and food-tasting events. I’m also trying to collaborate with University Park and Abington to do a mock wedding.

Brandywine: What made you decide to become a peer mentor for the Multilingual and International Student Program? In what ways has it helped you succeed outside the classroom?

Lamia Kamal: The Multicultural Club and the Multilingual and International Student Program are connected – all the club events are sponsored by the program. I figured if I become a peer mentor, it can help me be more involved in the club. It’s a really fun job, and I really enjoy working with Professor Ousey.

In terms of outside the classroom, I honestly got so many opportunities to discover a new person in me and gain connections. As I said, I got to meet new people, which is all outside of this classroom. I met amazing international students coming from other countries, and I gained a lot of knowledge, especially about how all the events are held on campus.

Brandywine: What inspired you to join the Muslim Student Association? What ultimately led you to become co-president of the organization?

Lamia Kamal: Last year during the spring semester, my friends and I would go to all of the club’s events, which inspired us to join. Then, one of my friends became the president of the association, and she made me treasurer. Now, she's stepping down, and I took over the position. Since being involved in the Muslim Student Association, I’ve been able to get halal meals at every event on campus. Currently, we’re trying to get prayer rooms for all religions, not just Muslims.

Brandywine: With all the extracurriculars you’re involved in on campus, how have they impacted your time on campus?

Lamia Kamal: They’re keeping me busy. They’re giving me opportunities to participate in a lot of events and activities, plan events and meet new people.

Never be afraid of failure because it is a part of your life. Always try to do your best and keep on moving forward.

—Lamia Kamal , third-year psychology student

Brandywine: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at Brandywine?

Lamia Kamal: Never be afraid of failure because it is a part of your life. Always try to do your best and keep on moving forward. Professor Ousey once said, dream big, never dream small, so don't stop until you can fly to the sky. That’s a really valuable lesson for me.