Nasir Azim Ilyas, originally from Lahore, Pakistan, is receiving his MBA from the Mendoza College of Business. He also serves as an international ambassador for Notre Dame International. He shares his story as part of the International Student Reflection series from the class of 2020.
It’s true when they say that if you have been to Notre Dame, no explanation is necessary; if you haven’t been there, no explanation will suffice! My journey with Notre Dame began when I was looking for an MBA program in an east coast university. Somewhere in my Google searches, an image of a golden dome emerged; its radiance and charisma ultimately led me to choose Notre Dame’s MBA program. Arriving on campus for the first time on a golden July morning, the Golden Dome mesmerized me with its shimmer, and with our Mother watching over Her land, I knew I was home.
The Notre Dame MBA gives you the opportunity to learn about your leadership style, provides you with a safe space and nurturing environment to identify your weaknesses, and shows you the pathway to overcome them. All the while, the faculty and staff stand on the sidelines, cheering on your success, and are always there to provide support and guidance.
Part of the MBA program is the IMPACT inter-term experience, in which teams of MBA students travel to different parts of the country and help local businesses and nonprofits find solutions to their most pressing challenges. Through these IMPACT inter-term projects, I got to travel to Washington, D.C., New York, and Reno and helped a nonprofit improve its communication strategy, a software company identify potential target companies for acquisition, and a start-up redefine its growth strategy. The Notre Dame MBA doesn’t just coach you to win a game or score a one-time touchdown, it teaches you the spirit of the game and inculcates sportsmanship, teamwork, and a high moral code to play with integrity. From student services at Mendoza, to the advisors at ISSA, and the ministers at campus ministry, everyone goes the extra mile to ensure that the students are well taken care of!
Notre Dame is a place to build community, to form close bonds with friends, and to support and pray for one another. My Notre Dame journey was filled with walks around the lakes and by the river, midnight study breaks at the Grotto, attending classes in Mendoza and learning from my classmates and professors, meeting new people and making friends on an almost daily basis, and last but not least, finding every event that served pizza! From spectacular purple sunsets to glittering snow on a clear, full moon night; from the serenity of swans paddling in the two lakes, to the overarching walkways covered with trees, Notre Dame not only provides world class academics, but also an opportunity to connect with nature and be awed by all the marvels that God has created. I have spent numerous evenings seeing the sun set while sitting in Ricci football fields, chatting with friends in the Fischer Community Center, playing sports in Duncan, sharing the sign of peace after mass, and grabbing takeaway from La Fun.
Whether it was attending the drum circle at midnight before every football home game, or attending worship led by students at Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI) sessions every Thursday night, learning about new cultures and meeting students from other countries during events held by ISSA, Notre Dame has been a journey in which each path had a milestone of memories that I will cherish forever! The rising echoes of “Let’s Go Irish” in the stadium and the hushed sounds of the rosary being prayed at the Grotto will always resonate with me. Only at Notre Dame does a professor offer to walk to the Grotto and say a prayer in the most desperate of times. For a brief period, I also worked with ND Listens; I made calls to our alumni and listened to them share their fond memories. Now I stand on the other end of the line, full of my own fond memories, waiting to share them with the next generation of the Fighting Irish!