Undergraduate Award Winner: Yusra Hassan

Portrait of Yusra Hassan

Yusra Hassan, a political science major from Rochester, Minnesota, was a recipient of the 2023 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award. As a member of the CLA Student Board and the Undergraduate Student Government, she is supplementing her pre-law degree track with hands-on experience so she can continue to “advocate for others.”

What brought you to the University of Minnesota and how did you end up choosing your major?

I was attracted to the University of Minnesota due to the numerous opportunities and resources available to students who attend. UMN and CLA have provided me with countless resources in research, internships, extracurriculars, etc. that I would not have otherwise had available to me. I decided to study political science and pursue a pre-law track due to my interest in learning about politics, policies, and laws and the ways in which they can help people and can be used as a way to ensure rights and protection for all. 

What course would you recommend for other students in your major? And for students outside of your major, what course would be a good introduction to what you study?

A course that I would recommend to all students regardless of their major would be POL 3309 - Supreme Court Politics with Professor Timothy Johnson. This course is very informative and interesting and provides a great understanding of the Supreme Court and all that goes into the court's decision-making. The readings and lectures from this course are engaging and provide you with valuable knowledge.

What student leadership opportunities have you had? What have those experiences taught you?

During my time here, I have been involved on the CLA Student Board and Undergraduate Student Government (USG) as a student leader. 

On the CLA Student Board, I have been able to work closely with the deans of CLA to provide a student perspective on different concerns within the College. I am also the student representative on the CLA Equity Policy Lens Committee, which reviews policies within the college for potential inequities or disparities. The board has been a great avenue for me to use my voice to advocate for improving the college for all students.

Within USG, I have been on the government and legislative affairs team for two years where I have been a liaison between the student body and different levels of government. Additionally, I was able to work on our "Row the Vote" campaign to launch the largest voter outreach campaign to ensure students are civically engaged. 

Both experiences have provided me with the knowledge of how to advocate for others and the experience of working with administration and elected officials in a professional manner. 

What is one aspect of your major that has surprised you? What do you wish more people understood about what you study?

One aspect of political science that has surprised me has been how many different aspects are included within the major. The major allows students to explore many different subdivisions within political science and learn about all that goes into those areas and how they are connected. I wish more people understood that just because you "don't like politics" does not mean that you wouldn't enjoy the courses and the information taught in political science classes because there truly is so much to learn and explore. 

What's next on the horizon?

I will be wrapping up my time at the University after this upcoming fall semester. After graduation, I plan to attend law school and pursue career training that will provide me with the expertise to legally advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

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