Pre-College Programs

April 11, 2017

Student Snapshot: Summer@Brown Alum Asher Salik

How one college student is using what he learned at Summer@Brown to aid the global refugee crisis.

Summer@Brown Alum Asher Salik, co-founder of Hope for Humanity

Asher, right, leading a Q&A with George Tarr, a Liberian refugee and politics student at Brooklyn College, as part of a recent Hope for Humanity Project event.

Asher Salik attended Summer@Brown five years ago to get a leg up on learning about the global economy. It was a topic he’d long been interested in and one that he knew he wanted to focus on in college. What he didn’t realize at the time was that several years later, as a junior at New York University, the skills and knowledge he acquired in his Summer@Brown course would also help him in another, more far-reaching way: founding a nonprofit to aid the international refugee crisis.

Arriving on Brown’s campus the summer before his senior year, Asher quickly connected with the professor teaching his Global Economic Development course, Diana Graizbord.

“The faculty engagement at Summer@Brown really stood out to me. (Professor Graizbord) was a Ph.D. student at the New School at the time, and she really mentored me to pursue a career in economics in the city. It was professional development at a really young age,” Asher said.

Outside of the classroom, Asher recalls many fun-filled days and nights with new friends in his dorm, Perkins Hall, including a large group outing to see the band White Panda play at a venue in downtown Providence.

“We were all obsessed with them. It was a really fun night,” Asher said.

After graduating high school, Asher headed to NYU to study economic policy. Around his junior year, he began looking for a way to put what he was learning into action.

“I wanted to tap into an untapped market in a philanthropic way,” he said.

Hearing stories from his girlfriend’s father, who had recently escaped from Damascus, Syria, during the conflict there, he began to think about the struggles of refugees worldwide. Researching the issues many refugees face, Asher realized he’d learned about many of the same topics during his Summer@Brown course.

“Issues like immigration and food allocation that I learned about at Brown, that knowledge was directly transferrable to the refugee crisis,” he said.

Eager to get involved, and armed with knowledge of how to best approach some of these complex issues thanks to his Summer@Brown course, Asher rallied two of his NYU classmates and together they founded the Hope for Humanity Project at NYU last spring. The mission of the organization is to educate college students about the global refugee crisis, raise funds and crowdsource solutions.

The nonprofit holds regular events on campus, including lectures and film screenings.

Although only a few months old, Hope for Humanity has already partnered with the UN Refugee Agency, which is even considering using the nonprofit as a model for a national program. The group has brought on other corporate sponsors as well, including Ogilvy Mathers and Heinz.

Asher hopes to head up his growing nonprofit through the remainder of his college career and stay involved in the crisis long-term. Without his Summer@Brown course, Asher said, he wouldn’t have been able to jump into such a complex issue so quickly.

“My Summer@Brown class dispelled any barriers to entry and made me more globally aware. I feel like if I hadn’t taken that class I wouldn’t know anything about global politics or had the knowledge of politics and organizational strategy to launch Hope for Humanity and make it the success it already has become.”