Yusuf Rasheed '24: Mentorship and Community Building at Yale


For Yusuf Rasheed, the chance to attend Yale University on the other side of the country seemed an impossible dream. He came from a tight-knit family in California, where his parents, two brothers, and 20 cousins remained firmly rooted. As he was also the youngest child, his parents were especially hesitant about sending him so far away for college.

But a pivotal phone call from Yale’s Director of Muslim Life, Imam Bajwa, helped assuage their concerns and set Rasheed on a path of academic ambition and community-building.

"Imam Bajwa was so generous with his time and helped connect me with alumni to learn about their experiences at Yale, which gave my parents the confidence they needed," Rasheed said. “My family and I are so grateful to him, and he has become one of my most important mentors.”

Once arriving at Yale, Rasheed immersed himself into the biomedical engineering (BME) program, embracing its comprehensive, broad-focused curriculum over a narrow specialization allowing him to explore various aspects of the field.

"We covered everything here –biomedical imaging, biomolecular engineering, and biomechanics, to name a few topics," Rasheed said. "I really like that it forced me to engage with all parts of the BME discipline so I can determine what I am passionate about within the field."By his sophomore year, those passions crystallized when Rasheed joined the lab of biomedical engineering professor Stuart Campbell, working with engineered heart tissues to evaluate a new diagnostic tool hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease. Under Campbell's mentorship, Rasheed relished the opportunity to apply concepts from the classroom to create real-world impact. While the coursework and research were rigorous and rewarding, Rasheed appreciates his BME mentors who helped personalize his experience in the major.

“Professors like Drs. Campbell, [Fahmeed] Hyder, [James] Duncan, [Larry] Staib, and [Mark] Saltzman were so incredible,” Rasheed said. “They exemplify how Yale blends academics with personal mentorship and support.”

Beyond the laboratories and classrooms, Rasheed found a second home in Yale's Muslim Student Association (MSA). He soon took on a leadership role, eventually rising to President and organizing weekly events to foster spiritual growth and community-building.

"The MSA became a second family for me," he said. "I wanted to give back and serve as a mentor just as Imam Bajwa was one for me."

Rasheed's dedication to fostering community extended beyond the MSA. As President of Yale's Biomedical Engineering Society, he spearheaded the first annual Yale Biomedical Engineering Conference. The event brought together undergraduate students, academics, and professionals from across the northeast to discuss innovations and career paths in biomedical engineering, foster networking opportunities and showcase the vibrant intellectual culture at Yale. The conference was a resounding success, hosting 150 students from more than 15 universities, and a career fair with 16 companies.

"The Yale Biomedical Engineering Conference is the accomplishment I'm most proud of during my time at Yale," he said. "Students told me they had experiences they couldn't find elsewhere, and seeing the impact of the conference – how it helped my peers and sparked dialogues about our field – was incredibly rewarding.”

As Rasheed prepares to graduate with a degree in biomedical engineering after just three years, he is contemplating his next steps before medical school, which might include further academic studies, a career in the biotech industry, or a role supporting Yale's Muslim community. Whatever route he chooses, he remains grateful for the transformative experience Yale provided.

"At first, I never expected to leave California, but Yale gave me the chance to find myself as a socially responsible person," Rasheed said. "All the professors, organizations, and mentors gave so much to students like me. I feel I have to give that experience back in whatever way I can after graduating."