Student Profile: Isa Iqbal

By Katie Strauss PZ ’26

If you asked any member of the Pitzer freshman class, “do you know Isa Iqbal?” the answer would likely be, “yes.” Isa can usually be spotted chatting with a classmate, riding his bicycle, or waving hello to a group of friends on his way to a party or meeting. As First-Year Representative, Isa makes it a priority to get to know his fellow 5C students. Isa’s philosophy as class representative is deceptively simple: be kind, and treat others with respect. 

Isa grew up in Pakistan, where he lived with his mother, father, and three siblings. Isa began his start in the academic world at the young age of six, where he went through rigorous programs, interviews, and tests to be accepted into a competitive G30 school. Although Isa is incredibly grateful that his parents worked so hard to get him into this school, it was extremely rigorous, accepting only around 250 of 1000 applicants for the first grade. Isa played soccer, ran cross country, and partook in mandatory extracurriculars. He became accustomed to academic stress, and even thrived under it. Isa expresses immense gratitude for this experience, however challenging, and recognizes his privilege having been able to gain such a valuable education.

In 2019, Isa and his friend became increasingly aware of issues of land grabbing and assault in rural Pakistan, and decided they wanted to use their educated positionality to do something about these issues. Throughout his research, Isa found that many individuals across Pakistan did not know their rights, and thought that if they were robbed or assaulted, there was nothing to be done. There was little to no trust in the judicial system. Isa and his friend co-founded Aagah Pakistan – the word “aagah” meaning “awareness” in Pakistan’s national language, Urdu. Aagah Pakistan’s primary goal is to empower citizens using the Pakistani constitution and show them their rights in order to empower them. Isa and his co-founder started awareness campaigns in local schools, where they would teach school children about specific amendments in the constitution that could empower them if they ever witnessed instances of injustice. They also launched an Instagram page, on which they posted articles of the constitution and explained what their practical implications are. Aagah Pakistan climbed to the top of the news in Pakistan, and their efforts continue to this day, even with Isa studying in the U.S.

In 2021, Isa teamed up with a group of his friends to tackle another prevailing issue in Pakistan, which is that 99% of women in Pakistan experience some form of sexual harassment or assault. Isa and his friends started a non-profit called Himmad, which means “power” in Urdu, created to eradicate domestic violence. They began by giving sexual assault workshops to factory workers on the outskirts of town, in an empowering way, rather than making anyone feel targeted. Isa’s female co-founders helped lead self-defense workshops in women’s shelters. Like Aagah, Himmad is still up and running today.

Isa acknowledges the enormous goals of both of his non-profits, and recognizes that there is endless work to be done. “If I could change even just one person’s mind,” Iqbal said, “that would be enough.” The Pitzer community can certainly learn from Isa Iqbal in our pursuit to make the world a better place. 

As the first member of his family to attend college abroad, Isa wanted to choose a school that valued social justice and allow him to continue to make change in the same way he had back in Pakistan. He chose Pitzer for these goals, which he pursues  through his involvement in Pitzer’s student senate. Isa is currently working in the student senate to improve Title IX policies, making them more accessible and comprehensible to the student body. 

As a prospective Mathematical Economics major, Isa hopes to work at a consulting firm after college, which would open up a lot of doors for him to pursue social justice. Isa wants to return ultimately to Pakistan when he feels he is at a place where he can contribute to his community and help them by whatever means necessary. 

Although Isa is very goal oriented and motivated, at the core of his personality is his love and care for human beings. Isa talks openly about his love and gratitude for his family, and any student who has met him can see how much he genuinely cares about other people. His pursuit of social justice stems from this kindness. Isa spreads joy and kindness wherever he goes, and at the center of all his relationships is devotion and care.

Interview was conducted with Isa Iqbal. 

Isa Iqbal. Photo by Ali Abbas CMC ‘23.

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