President of UMKC Men of Color Finds Connection the Key to Success

Nabil Abas builds community for himself and others

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Nabil Abas
Anticipated graduation: 2022
Academic program: BA’22 Interpersonal Communications Studies, minor in Sociology
Hometown: Mombasa, Kenya

Nabil Abas is a first-generation college student. While he works hard to maintain his grades, help his family and volunteer on campus and in his community, he is quick to smile, curious and engaged and determined to achieve success for himself and other people around him.

“Being a first-generation college student is extremely important, because I was the first person in my family to go through the college application process,” he says. “I had to find people to assist me in understanding FAFSA, what the college admission processes are and finding the resources that are out there.”

While the process was sometimes overwhelming, Abas has seen the benefit of figuring it out extend beyond his own success.

“It was overwhelming at times, but I use my experiences to assist my siblings, niece, nephews and community members. It means the world to me that I could be the point person that someone needed so they go after their college dreams!”

Abas’s aspirations did not stop at college acceptance. As an interpersonal communications major with a minor in sociology, he combines his interest, his experience and his knowledge from the classroom to help others.

“I chose this field of study because I love learning all about the social interactions of people, verbal behaviors and group dynamics,” he says. “My first job was working as an orientation leader. That’s what introduced me to field.”

Beyond his positive first impression, Abas has followed the lead of his professors at the College of Arts and Sciences.

“They are talented, bright, caring and experienced professors who inspire me to be the same for others in wherever I’m working at. Being around them inspires me to strive to have these qualities when I get into my field.”

"It means the world to me that I could be the point person that someone needed so they go after their college dreams!" – Nabil Abas

Still, Abas sometimes struggles with balancing school, work and family life. As the oldest sibling in his family, he has a lot of responsibility at home, but he works hard to maintain balance. He’s found it helpful to surround himself with classmates and form study groups with people who have similar passions.

“I always enjoy being able to have thoughtful conversations with my classmates on all topics on the table,” he says. “Whether that be state of our education system, social justice issues or how we could bring change to our communities. Those conversations are always the best!”

These interests reinforce Abas’s engagement in his role as president for the UMKC Men of Color initiative.

“Men of Color was created as a space where men of color and Latino males could come together to create a sense of belonging and hold each other accountable,” he says. “We do that through real-talk conversations with guest speakers, promoting positive images of men of color professionals, social media and cultural enrichment activities.”

It was Abas’s work with Men of Color that led to his involvement in the Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort developed to reinforce the university’s commitment to value all individuals for their contribution to the community regardless of race, social or cultural identities.

“I’m grateful to Chancellor Agrawal for creating this initiative for conversation and connection,” Abas says. “It’s been great to have conversations between Black students and university leaders like Brandon Martin, Kimberly Johnson and Keichanda Dees-Burnett. We share a mutual passion and dedication to creating a two-way street of communication between students and the university.”

"Your capabilities are limitless! This motto has helped me in every stage in my college journey." – Nabil Abas

Beyond his work on campus, Abas is heavily involved in volunteering on the weekends. He is the public relations director of Al-huda Youth Group, which helps Muslim youth in the historic northeast Kansas City neighborhoods combat the common issues or barriers that they face.

“I was lucky enough to have community leaders in my corner throughout my life, so this group is a way of giving back to my community for all they have done for us and also investing in our future leaders,” he says.

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