Hometown: Mequon, Wis.
Major: Radio/TV/film, with a business institutions minor
Big picture: Rayyan Najeeb is co-president of Inspire Media, a student organization that promotes and funds social awareness through films, photography and online media. He is actively involved in the Northwestern Engagement Coalition, which seeks to increase cohesiveness among student groups and create social change. The Illinois Technology Foundation honored Najeeb among its “50 for the Future” in innovation for a project that helps professors use technology to teach. With his interest in education technology, he founded the Rubrick, which enables academic institutions to elevate student learning and eliminate wasteful spending by assessing the true impact education technology tools have in the classroom. He’ll continue to develop the prototype at his investor-funded startup after graduation.
On founding the Rubrick: “I remember sitting at home watching my professor’s organic chemistry video about lab techniques. The issue was it was 50 minutes long, so going back to watch it to prepare for the test was inefficient. As a film major, I thought, ‘There has to be another way.’ I broke down the professor’s lecture videos into five-minute course nuggets. Then I thought, let’s create a video manual to teach professors how to teach using this method. Some professors adopted it and found it incredibly useful. I want to continue to find productive ways to use educational technology.”
On Islam guiding his life: “The time I spent as a camp counselor for the Muslim Youth of North America gave me perspective on social issues. The last few nights of camp, my campers and I would sit in a circle, and they would talk about problems at home, at school and in their communities. It made me realize that issues such as poverty and poor education have serious consequences on an individual level. Now the only way I can sleep at night is knowing that I am working to address these issues.
“I think it’s also really important to note that Islam gave me a value system, and it is that value system that I carry with me into everything that I do. I am driven to help others. This is college, but I don’t drink, and I don’t date; yet I’m living a full life. People respect that, that you have things that you stand for.”
On visiting NU-Q: “At a bonfire the night before we flew back to Evanston, an NU-Q student and I planned a documentary exchange between Northwestern students in Evanston and Qatar for the end of May. And for a brief moment while planning, I thought I was in Evanston planning a collaboration with just another student group.
“NU-Q is just as ‘Northwestern’ as NU-E, except with better hummus.”