In many ways, Asad is everything the quintessential millennial is not: he thrives on efficiency without marginalizing quality and he cultivates a diversified accomplishment portfolio while simultaneously exuding genuine humility. Asad is one of those Hermione Granger types, the kind of person who simply has to be hiding a Time Turner. He is involved in eight things at once, has gotten lunch with more profs than most sophomores can even name, and somehow maintains a perpetually widening social network. The Argus was fortunate enough to catch Hassanali in one of his rare free moments, and we were happily surprised to uncover that he is, occasionally, a mere Muggle, too.
The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated to be a WesCeleb?
Asad Hassanali: I don’t actually know….I think I am involved in many different aspects of campus life. I have also had a bunch of different campus jobs, so people probably recognize me. I guess.
A: What is something about you that most people don’t know?
AH: I’m terrified of bees. I am pretty irrational when it comes to bees. If a bee touches my pail, I’m scared to keep eating it. All of this “bees make the world go ’round” stuff is just nonsense.
A: What do you do/read/watch/listen to when you’re not busy working?
AH: Sleep. Snack. I don’t know. For fun, I like to read thriller novels, pretty young-boy material…ya know, like Jeffrey Archer or John Grisham. Things that a senior probably shouldn’t be reading.
A: Do you watch TV? I can’t really imagine you doing something unproductive.
AH: Oh no, I do it. I definitely watch too much TV.
A: What do you think is the most embarrassing show you watch?
AH: Embarrassing? Well I’m not really embarrassed of it, but maybe “Downton Abbey?” I mean, everyone loves it. I have talked to my profs about it in class. But I watch more normal stuff too: “Game of Thrones,” “Suits,” “Silicon Valley,” “White Collar,” “Person of Interest,” all these kinds of shows.
A: You’ve had a bunch of roles in a variety of campus institutions. Without even looking at your LinkedIn, I can list: Freeman Scholar, Peer Career Advisor, CSS Student, Residential Advisor (RA), Kai Entrepreneurship CFO, and Economics TA. Is there anything you’re involved in that we might not see you doing?
AH: I mean, I feel like I really don’t do that much stuff. I guess I’m also a student representative to the Board of Trustees. There are eight student reps, and we pretty much go to board meetings and provide a student perspective on campus issues.
A: Okay, well then how about America’s upcoming presidential election? As an international student [from Singapore], do you find yourself getting involved in or being isolated by the seemingly constant talk about Clinton and Trump?
AH: I think it’s really interesting. I mean I have to consider that a lot of my future plans, especially since I am not American, are dependent on visa status and immigration policies. So, a lot of the issues being discussed are actually ones that will directly affect me.
A: When you go home or when you talk to people from high school or from back home, are they aware or concerned with what’s going on here?
AH: When I first came to America, I didn’t realize how isolated America sees itself on the world political stage. Given, this American perception is true in some ways, but who becomes the U.S. president isn’t the be all end all for many other parts of the world.
I’m also surprised because a lot of my friends back home really buy into the ideas laid out by Bernie Sanders. This is interesting because Singapore is more politically conservative, so this kind of shows a more global shift in the thinking of people in our generation.
A: What have you learned at Wesleyan that has most significantly impacted your worldview?
AH: I’ve become a lot more conscious about class and race issues. Just through being friends with people who are involved in voicing these concerns and are so well-read in them helps me better understand these kinds of issues from both an American and an international perspective.
A: If you could go back to Wesleyan in 10 years, what would you major in?
AH: CSS, of course.
A: Given that you’ve already majored in CSS and Economics?
AH: Oh, then I would be a physics and philosophy double major. I think it’s interesting and something I would like to explore more. It touches on both qualitative and quantitative aspects, which is something I can appreciate. Have you ever read Ayn Rand? I’m very intrigued by “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” not because I necessarily buy into all of that, but her ideas certainly broadened my perspective on how I think about the world.
A: Anyone on or off campus whom you are particularly motivated by?
AH: I know it sounds cliché, but definitely my parents. They work hard and have always managed really well with what they’ve been given. And I don’t always appreciate them as much as I should, but they certainly do their best for me.
A: Wow! A rare glimpse into the emotional side of Asad. How about wisdom? In the past four years, what is the best advice you’ve received?
AH: Probably, to just chill out more. Just kidding, kind of.
To be honest though, the best advice I’ve received is that it’s not always about how hard you work, but how smart you work. You can’t just work hard, you’ve got to work smart. To maximize efficiency. This also gives me more free time to watch TV, bum around, or sleep more.
A: What’s the weirdest day you’ve ever had at Wesleyan?
AH: Every day is weird here. But that’s why I love it. Weirdness is what makes and keeps this place interesting.