Rafiuddin Najam is living in Corvallis, Oregon. He arrived in the United States in 2018 for his master’s and currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Public Policy at the Oregon State University.

Mr. Najam completed his early education in the eastern city of Jalalabad. He was exposed to English during early school. However, he dedicated time to learning advanced-level English during his undergraduate studies by watching lectures on policy-relevant topics on YouTube and other online platforms. He was passionate about learning international languages, as it is the key to access and contributing to scientific advancement. He completed his undergraduate in public policy and administration at Kabul University, and knowing English enabled him to broaden his perspectives and skills. 

He says, “My parents were my heroes, who inspired me to become a researcher. They faced challenges during high school, but my mom could not afford to continue her post-secondary education due to financial barriers. On the other hand, my dad was doing labor work to self-finance his undergraduate studies.”

During the last year of his undergraduate studies, Mr. worked with the Kabul Educational Advising Center as an administrative support volunteer. He joined the President’s Administrative Office-Afghanistan following his graduation, where he served as a policy analyst. 

At the top of his class and with advanced English language skills, Mr. Najam attempted the Fulbright Fellowship sponsored by the US Department of State. On his first attempt, Mr. Najam got selected for the fellowship as he was actively participating in community development and volunteer activities with nonprofit organizations.

Though the journey has not been easy, as Mr. Najam reflects on life’s difficulties as a graduate student, he is thankful to have gone through them as they helped him develop personally and professionally. He says that it was in part because of his parents’ encouragement. They would say, “think about the possibilities of being able to work and interact with people beyond Afghanistan. If you commit to learning, you will be able to work anywhere and make a difference in people’s lives one day.” With the power of these words, Mr. Najam would become the first in his family to get a Ph.D. and contribute to the understanding of Afghanistan through his research and inspire Afghan to pursue an education path. His youngest brother is also a Fulbright Fellowship recipient and doing his masters in the United States. 

Mr. Najam would like to continue his research on Afghanistan to shed light on important issues that impact the Afghan people and are critical for policymakers in Afghanistan and beyond. Mr. Najam inspires many young Afghans who would like to shoulder the world with their intellect and enlightened capacity of hope and audacity.

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