University Honors Program

Mohammed Usman ZiaMohammed Usman Zia

Social Entrepreneur, Linguist
Class of 2013
Major: Global Development
Living-and-Learning Program: University Honors
Hometown: New York, New York
High School: Smithsburg Senior High School

Why I chose Honors at Maryland:
Great internship, work, and volunteer opportunities can be found throughout Prince George's County and the greater DC area. There is also a lot of diversity in the UMD student body. During the past three years, my roommates have been from the following locations: California, Pennsylvania, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Uganda/Kenya, Maryland and Texas. I cannot express how thankful I am to attend a university where there are so many different students from all over the U.S. and the world.

Favorite Honors seminar course:
My favorite Honors seminar was HONR288N Global Economic Environment, because the course took a multidisciplinary approach to understanding economic issues on a global scale. The course was full of great discussion, which enhanced our ability to evaluate economic policies. Our professor, Dr. Grimm, was congenial and took all students out to lunch to get to know them personally.

I really enjoy traveling and learning languages. I can speak Urdu, basic Swahili, and basic Arabic, and I will be studying French and Swahili during my senior year abroad. Because the University of Maryland does not currently offer a major in international studies, I decided to create my own major, Global Development, through the Individual Studies Program. Designing my own major was challenging at first, but it was also engaging and exciting. I love the flexibility of selecting my own coursework and taking a diverse range of courses related international economics and politics. The Individual Studies Department is a wonderful place to go whenever I need advice or information on extra curricular activities. I have also had the support of my faculty mentor, Dr. Howard, who has provided me with useful guidance on academic courses. Pursuing a personally designed major is a unique opportunity for any college student to follow their specific interests, and I am glad that University of Maryland provided me with the opportunity to do so through the Individual Studies Program.

My Independent Research and Study Trip to Tanzania had a profound impact on my career aspirations and personal ideals. I have studied global development in my classes and I have learned a lot about HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and other development challenges. It was amazing to get a firsthand perspective on HIV and to put a face on the disease and its effects. My future plans are to engage in international work to improve human development. I plan to work in sub-Saharan Africa and I would like to work on socially viable investments that improve living conditions in developing nations.

  • Other Campus Programs:
  • Awards/Scholarships:
    • Dean's Scholarship
    • OMSE Academic Excellence Award
    • Dean's List
    • Honors Outstanding Student Award (Portz Award)
    • Rangel Summer Scholarship - The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program is a six-week summer program designed to provide undergraduate students with a deeper appreciation of current issues and trends in international affairs, a greater understanding of career opportunities in international affairs, and the enhanced knowledge and skills to pursue such careers. The Program usually selects 15-20 participants (known as "Rangel Scholars") each year from universities throughout the United States.
  • Work/Internship/Research Experience:
    • Intern with U.S. Department of Justice
    • Intern with ShoreBank International (International development consulting firm)
    • Intern with the Milennium Project (United Nations founded research NGO)
    • Honors 100 Section Leader
  • Student Organizations:
  • Volunteering:
    • Refugee Assistant with the International Rescue Committee-I helped local resettled refugees with career development
    • Student Research Assistant with the School of Public Health-I worked on HIV/AIDS research
  • Study Abroad:
    • Uganda, Spring 2012-I traveled with the UMD Capital One Leadership Internship Program to a rural village in Uganda where I spent ten days working on sustainable development. I participated in building water tanks and sustainable, energy efficient stoves.
    • Morocco, Winter 2012-I independently traveled to Rabat where I volunteered with disabled children and raised money for disabled youths.
    • Tanzania, Winter 2011-I independently traveled to an urban slum in Tanzania where I lived with HIV infected orphans for two weeks. I taught English/Math and conducted a two credit independent research study on access to healthcare for HIV infected orphans in Tanzania.