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The World Traveler

News Story

Political science major David Sharif ’19 has been tirelessly traveling the globe in his mission to raise awareness about autism. He’s part of the OASIS program here at Pace, eager to act as an educator and spokesperson.

David Sharif ’19 is a minor celebrity here at Pace. You’ve probably heard of him before—he’s been featured in numerous articles, spoken at countless panels, and met with leaders from every corner of the world in his tireless efforts to raise awareness about autism, not to mention other social advocacy concerns, of which Sharif is equally eager to promote. He’s part of the OASIS program, a comprehensive support program for Pace students with learning differences, and one of its strongest advocates.

Majoring in political science with a minor in peace and justice studies, Sharif encompasses both programs in all that he takes on. He’s a member of Pace’s award-winning Model United Nations team, having participated in three conferences; two here in New York City, and most recently, one in Rome, Italy. “Being part of Model United Nations has enabled me to become a strong advocate for the causes I care about, and [to] understand the challenges of negotiating with leaders of different nations,” Sharif told us.

In addition to his advocacy work on behalf of the autism community, he is also passionate about the Jewish community. Sharif explained that, “Other than caring about those who have learning struggles, I am also an advocate for Jewish rights [along] with some of my fellow Jewish friends from Camp Havaya and my synagogue.” He studied abroad in Berlin, Germany, for this reason, exploring several Jewish museums and monuments as well as studying the rise of anti-Semitism during WWII.

Sharif has also studied politics in Barcelona, Spain, which he blogged about for the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS); learned about the foundation of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; and explored geological and environmental relations in Quito, Ecuador, paying particular attention to the Galapagos Islands.

“The purpose of studying at these different institutions and participating in these conferences has given me the opportunity to share my learning capabilities with so many people around the world,” Sharif enthused. “Traveling the world is like reading a book or writing a journal—I never know what happens until I go to [a] country [and] create an unforgettable experience that I will remember for a lifetime.”

It’s that passion for learning that also led Sharif to break yet another record: he’s part of the first Undergrad Research Program pairing where both the student and faculty member are from the OASIS program. He completed a study on the challenges and successes of post-secondary students with autism and how to improve completion rates. Sharif also presented his research at a summit in Burlington, VT, as well as the Dyson Society of Fellows annual meeting.

And if you thought Sharif was finished setting records, think again. He has a personal long-term goal he’d like to see completed, too. “As I continue embracing autism awareness in different nations, I hope to travel to all 193 UN Member States before the age of 50. Spreading global awareness for a specific cause that I live with has so much meaning [to me] as I continue [developing] new skills to bring autism awareness far and wide.”

We look forward to hearing about Sharif’s travels and all the incredible work he will undoubtedly continue to promote across the globe.

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