Mustafa Babak lives far from his native Afghanistan, but when studying at UCL in 2017 he felt “at home”
As a child born and growing up in the 1980’s in Afghanistan, Mustafa was exposed to many atrocities and hardships imposed by the Soviet invasion of his native country. In August 1992, his father, a physician, was forced to flee Afghanistan with his family and take refuge in Pakistan where Mustafa was educated. They had “lost hope” for their country once the Taliban came into power, afraid for their children’s safety, and concerned for the lack of educational and career opportunities. After 2001, the family returned to Afghanistan with renewed hope of rebuilding their culture and civilization for an improved future.
Mustafa’s first job was as a translator for a journalist following the Taliban defeat. Having fled their home and living in another culture, wander-lust took hold of Mustafa and he wanted more. Ten years later, Mustafa had the opportunity to study at the University of the Pacific in California, earning a B.A. degree in Communication and International Relations. It was here that he met his future American wife.
Capitals of the world
Mustafa worked in various positions promoting causes of peace, social impact and “nation building” when he decided to further his qualifications and applied to various Master’s degree programs, accepting an offer for the NYU/UCL Executive Master of Global Public Administration (EMPA). This course, split between New York City and London, was able to offer an opportunity for a superior educational experience while fulfilling his love of travel and new cultural experiences.
Not only did Mustafa longed to study in both New York and London as major cultural “capitals of the world”, he was also impressed with UCL’s true and inherent commitment to diversity. Moving around like he had, Mustafa previously felt tremendous pressure to “fit in”. In contrast, at UCL he just felt he was at home. “UCL is not walled in as it is in the heart of the ‘City’. People at UCL express empathy for others, a value not common everywhere in the world” he says.
Mustafa was thrilled to bring along his own culture and experiences and be accepted amongst his peers for his talents and abilities as a member of the team. After studying at UCL for six months, Mustafa has made friendships and potential partnerships from the diverse UCL community that he expects will last a life time. The students in the EMPA program represent future world leaders in politics, industry, and education and many areas of power and influence.
The greatest good
Mustafa thoroughly enjoyed Policy Communications and Public Relations, an area where his core skills and interests come together. He’s most interested in understanding the weaknesses of governance and change theory which might be put into practice for the greatest good (adhering to UCL’s philosophical founder Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy). For his final policy memo course work, Mustafa worked on counter narcotics policy to address opium addiction – an approach to change and development which he hopes to deploy one day in his native Afghanistan.
He recently moved to Washington DC where he hopes to find a position in the area of international aid. He is most concerned with concrete policy changes for how aid is distributed and how corruption in government can be eliminated, so that the maximum monetary aid can reach the neediest. Mustafa’s experiences and success at UCL uniquely positions him and his fellow alumni to change the world.
Mustafa is most appreciative of the UCLFAA for granting the scholarship to study at UCL without which he would have been unable to attend.