When Albajari was 12, he joined his father by working at his family’s grocery store in Brooklyn to help bring in more money for the household of seven. As his high school graduation rolled around, he figured his academic career was coming to a close and he would begin working full time.
But as he watched his peers applying for college, he changed his mind.
“Something inside of me sparked and I saw (attending college) as an opportunity to give back to my parents who have worked so hard to give me this life I live,” said Albajari, whose parents emigrated from Yemen. “All throughout my years in college, I have always had my family’s best interest in mind and have even abstained from summer internship opportunities to make my contributions to the family store because my father was in need of the assistance.”
Despite passing up summer internship opportunities, Albajari has packed as much as he could into his four years at SUNY Oswego.
A finance major with an economics minor, Albajari graduates with a GPA of 3.96, and a list of extracurricular activities that enriched his college experience.
His roles with those activities include serving as president of the Economics Club, macroeconomics chair of the Student Investment Club, chair of finance for the Student Association, treasurer for the Black Student Union, chief financial officer for the Financial Management Association, member of the Board of Directors for Auxiliary Services and a peer mentor for first-year economics majors.
“Ahmed did a great job with helping SA build their budget and then took that experience and applied it to his involvement with a number of business organizations and opportunities,” said Michael Paestella, director of student involvement who nominated Albajari for the award. “Through all of this he maintained an amazing GPA, stayed humble and kept asking for guidance and feedback along with helping his fellow students.”
After graduation, Albajari plans to head to Wall Street in New York City, and eventually hopes to earn an MBA.
“It is a humbling experience receiving such an award,” he said. “Just a couple of years ago I didn’t know if I was able to go to college due to financial constraints. This just shows with hard work, time and patience, you can go far!”
As the recipient of the Michael O’Brien ’81 Memorial Scholarship at SUNY Oswego, he credits the financial support he received as being integral to his success and said he hopes to someday establish a scholarship for students in need.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my donors’ help,” he said.
“For Ahmed to be so successful and to overcome all that he has in order to graduate with the GPA he has and receive this honor, well, he is a true success story and an inspiration to others,” Paestella said. “And he’s not even full time in his career yet.”
Albajari was recognized during the Commencement Eve Torchlight Dinner on Friday, May 17, in the Marano Campus Center convocation hall and arena.
The Outstanding Senior Award was established by the 2005 Senior Class Planning Committee and is funded by 2002 alumna Alice Massimi Crouch. The Outstanding Senior Award recognizes a graduating senior who has been highly involved on campus while maintaining academic excellence.