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International student alumni in the U.S.: Making a difference at the community, state and national level

Current and former international students live and work across the entire U.S., in large cities as well as small towns. Here we share the stories of ten individuals whose daily work in key areas contributes to U.S. communities and society.


Sana Mustafa came to the U.S in June 2013 for what was supposed to be a six week civic engagement and leadership course for youth leaders from the Middle East. But during her
program, her father disappeared under the Assad regime back home in Syria and, as a result, she could not return to Syria and her education was disrupted. After obtaining political asylum in
2014, Sana began to look for scholarships to go back to school. The Institute of International Education (IIE) enabled her to connect to Bard College, which granted her a scholarship to
resume her undergraduate studies in Political Science. She graduated in fall 2016.

While at Bard, Sana became involved in advocacy for refugee inclusion through public speaking and storytelling, engaging with schools, colleges, community centers, and policy makers. During those years, she partnered with several organizations and individuals in the US and globally to advocate for refugee rights, refugee inclusion, and resettlement to the US. This work also allowed her to connect with other refugees.

She soon launched her own consulting business in 2017 where she consulted with different
institutions such as Oxfam International, Open Society Foundation, the United Nations, WeWork, Tent Partnership for Refugees, and others on designing engagement projects related to refugees, refugees’ inclusion, and their political and humanitarian situation through a design thinking approach.

Today, Sana serves as the Associate Director of Partnership and Engagement at Asylum Access, an international organization working on the challenging legal barriers that keep refugees from living safely, moving freely, working and attending school. She is a founding member of The Network For Refugee Voices, a refugees led coalition working to increase refugees engagement with the international community to pursue inclusive, sustainable, and effective refugee and immigration policy. Sana is also a member of Syria’s first Syrian Women’s Political Movement, whose aim is to unite women from across professional fields and ethnic lines to ensure vision for women’s inclusion in a future Syria.

She is an active public speaker, has delivered a TED talk, and has spoken at the UN headquarters in New York, the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, at the Carnegie Endowment, the White House, Harvard Law School, Stanford University, and at numerous other respected venues.