Student Profile: Nazir Jairazbhoy
Nazir Jairazbhoy is a junior studying Chemical Engineering here at Wayne State. In addition to his academic work, he is also on the Men’s Golf Team and is an active member of the Detroit Feedback Loop. Nazir was selected as the 2018 recipient of the Honors College Athletic Academic Award, which is awarded to the student-athlete who has the highest GPA among the student-athlete in a particular college. He stopped by Honors to answer a few questions about his time at Wayne State.
Jerry brought to my attention that you were the recipient of the Athletic Academic Award. Congratulations.
First, tell me about yourself.
Currently I am a junior studying Chemical Engineering with both Departmental Honors and Honors through the Irvin D. Reid Honors College. I think my GPA is around a 3.9 the whole time. Academics has always been first to me. I came to Wayne State to play golf, but to be a student first. It has been really important that I keep building that foundation while expanding other areas, such as outreach and my honor’s society.
It was really honorable to get mentioned. I actually didn’t know. My coach knew the secret, my athletic trainer knew the secret, but I had no clue what was going on. It was a really nice surprise when they called my name to get the award and I have to thank everybody from the Honors College for giving me the opportunity and that recognition.
What is it like being a student-athlete?
It’s been rigorous. Obviously, the student comes first in student-athlete. I originally came here just to play golf. I talked to the coach, he recruited me in April of my senior year, which is very late. Most people get recruited in November and sign their national letter of intent at that time. It has been great to have this opportunity. It has taught me even more how to budget
your time, make sure you manage (your time). Being a student-athlete, that first year especially, and being a student, I felt like I excelled at keeping my academics high. But it is tough, especially when you are doing a tough degree. It’s not easy getting to every practice, but working with a great coach like Coach Horn, he really worked with me to keep my schedule focused and my goals and priorities straight. Because once we are done with our college experience, all of those tools you learn from athletics – balancing time, learning how to compete and showing that you can be the best person you can be – you take those to the work environment and you learn how to apply those skills, and I’ve already been doing that through Detroit Feedback Loop, through my honors society and through everything I do today.
I know that there is really no offseason in golf. Are you more of a fall or spring sport?
Its fall and spring. The spring is the competitive season, so our top five went down and played at GLIAC’s this weekend and are going to Supers (Regionals) in the following weeks. So it’s really exciting. It’s always on in fall and spring. In the summer you are usually on your own to practice your skills. If you have to work on internship, you go play at a golf course. You really don’t stop, and in winter, you go to Carl’s Golfland and play with Coach. There is never really an offseason.
So what do you do in the fall?
There are tournaments in both fall and spring. Both tournaments count towards your overall standing in the region. But the spring tournaments are usually more highly ranked than regional tournaments. Then there of course is the GLIAC’s, which is a very important tournament to do well in, and then regionals and then Super’s and then national championship.
How do you find time to balance not only practicing golf and doing your tournaments, plus academic life and the Detroit Feedback Loop and any research/internship you might be doing?
You got to have a scheduling book. You have to write everything down. Today, I put all of my meetings in, put my notes so I don’t forget what I’m talking about and I just go through the day. And I wake up the next day and I do the next, but I always plan it out. I always have a schedule. It is really important to be organized – that’s what sports has taught me, from high school to college golf. You have to understand how to budget your time to practice, and budget your time to study, and budget you time to do whatever else you need to do.
What drew you into Chemical Engineering and what kind of work have you done so far? Have you gotten into any labs or internships?
Yes. Basically, I got into Chemical Engineering, actually originally it was Mechanical Engineering my first semester here. I didn’t want to be my dad, he got his Ph.D in Chemical Engineering. Super smart guy. Technical. But myself, the reason I switched over from Mechanical was because my life has always been about efficiency, planning, making sure I’m doing everything in the most time-efficient way and the most effective way. Chemical Engineering is all about process optimization, sustainability, and these different areas of efficiency and product development and I really enjoy it. So I went into it, I knew some background from my dad, and I fell in love with it. I really like Chemical Engineering – I had one internship at Consumers Energy the past summer, which was to just get me into the workplace. This summer, I’m actually working for a subsidiary of Dow Corning, which is called Hemlock Semiconductors. Basically they are a polysilicon manufacturing company and it’s really going to be all process optimization and get my hands down into the nitty-gritty with Chemical Engineering. So that’s how I got into it.
What did you do at Consumers?
I was working in their gas operations. I was working with the field leaders who are mostly working with crews. It taught me a lot of leadership skills, how to manage. I do have plans to go back to school after I go in the industry for a little bit to get an MBA, so that was great learning there. It also allowed me to apply some problem solving skills to their Excel files. I had a project, basically, optimizing their chip resolution. It taught me more on the optimization side. A little less on the process development, but more on the sustainability in the work environment.
What did you take from that experience at Consumers and correlate it into what you do with the Detroit Feedback Loop, WSU Golf team and everyday life?
So understanding how to apply yourself in the work environment is crucial. Being able to get that my sophomore year is incredible because once I had those learning experiences, such as working within a team to get a job done, understanding how to communicate with a team of people going on a job and effectively entail them what tasks need to be done, how to get it done in a time-efficient manner. It taught me how to bring it back and speak to a group of individuals for Detroit Feedback Loop. It taught me how to conduct myself in an interview or meeting, and basically gave me real world applications of how to be a professional.
Transitioning to the Detroit Feedback Loop, talk about your experience working with them. What have you gained from that experience and what are you looking to do with it going forward?
I’ve grown, as I’ve said before, so much through that experience. It started with Nick and Camilla having this great idea and me being one of its drivers to us making a huge impact with the help of the Honors College and getting that grant money from OptimizeWayne. So what it’s taught me is a lot. I’ve been the Outreach Coordinator for Detroit Feedback Loop. I’ve been working with Aramark, Office of Environmental Health and Safety. It’s taught me so many things about growing an organization; what’s implicated in liabilities; what’s implicated on the legal side; how to coordinate people; how to get your PR. It has taught be basically all-encompassing; if you want to start a business, or start a non-profit or start something up, you have to take these measures and it really taught be me to be proactive in the approach. We were proactive when we found out how to do health and safety so we could work with Wayne State Dining. We were proactive when we were trying to get our grant money to making sure we had lawyers with us. We were connecting with the Honors College and we were connecting with all of our supporters and funders, and it really taught me how to network.
How has Honors played a role in all of this?
Honors has been a huge part of how I have grown through Wayne State. The great thing about Honors is that it immerses you into the community, and this is what I say wherever and wherever I speak. Going to Wayne State, you are given the unique opportunity of being set in a community that is not just a college campus, but is a thriving city. So you’re able to connect with people outside of the college experience and really get a wholesome feel. And though the Honors College, they require you to do service, service-learning, serviceable requirements, and they teach you about the city through HON 1000 and PS 1010 classes. And they really show you what you can do in the city. They give you a voice to be able to go into the community and connect with the opportunities there, help solve a problem. It really gave birth to the Detroit Feedback Loop, almost. All five of us on the core team are Honors students, and we believe that it is a kind of community that builds up and fosters a lot of community engagement and a love for the city.
What would you recommend to a prospective student that approaches you about coming to Wayne State and being a part of the Honors College?
I would tell them to take the opportunities the College gives you. Go to the events the Honors College puts on. Immerse yourself in the community, be students there. You will be surprised how many bright individuals are brought together through the Honors College and how much of an impact you can make just as students at Wayne State. You’re not just students, you’re a voice and a platform and to be able to make that difference and make your mark on the city, on Wayne State, on Detroit.