AliReda Jeafar spends his days working for the city of Detroit. In the City Clerk’s office, he helps log citizen needs, directs Detroiters toward solutions and shares this information with the office’s leadership in customized charts and spreadsheets.
Full of energy and personality, the Fall 2023 College of Arts, Sciences and Letters graduate at UM-Dearborn— who is earning his Master of Public Administration and Policy — seems like a natural fit in a public-helping role for one of the nation’s largest cities. “I love hearing from residents and working for the city,” he says. “You feel like no matter where you are, no matter what you do, you’re doing something that’s contributing to the public good by connecting people to the help they need.”
But Jeafar said the road to this great fit wasn’t in a straight line. It came slowly into focus through internships, classes, work experiences and soul searching. The once aspiring lawyer — a dream his parents had for him — realized, while in law school in 2020, that his goals were different.
“I had a good job. I was working at a personal injury law office. But I just couldn’t shake the nagging feeling of, ‘what am I doing here?’ Something didn’t sit right with me,” says Jeafar, whose parents came from Lebanon and raised their family in Dearborn Heights.
“I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. They meant well. But I started to realize that their dream for me wasn’t my dream for me. I know there are other students out there who might be in a similar situation and I want to let them know that it’s OK to pursue the career you want. It can be hard, but in the end, it will work out.”
At that crossroads in 2020, Jeafar — who earned his bachelor’s degree from UM-Dearborn in 2017 — took inventory of all the activities and professional experiences that he’s enjoyed.
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