Omar Abdelaziz, BSBA ’18, planned to follow in his family’s footsteps and study finance and accounting at Olin Business School.
But after encouragement from members of his business fraternity, he enrolled in an introductory computer science course at the McKelvey School of Engineering. Abdelaziz was hooked and decided to double major in business administration and computer science.
Now a product manager at Google, Abdelaziz is improving the lives of millions of people through new product development. He’s part of the team working on expanding Google Assistant smartphone functionality to enable task delegation via screen control rather than just voice commands.
Abdelaziz recently made his first gift to WashU in appreciation for the community that helped shape him and his career. He hopes other young alumni are inspired to follow his example. No matter the amount, every gift to the Annual Fund helps create a network of support for current students.
What was your undergraduate experience like?
Washington University is an incredible place. I felt welcomed and supported from the first day I arrived on campus. I will never forget the week before classes started when I bonded with my freshmen floormates, many of whom I still talk to today. There were just the right amount of clubs and student organizations to join. I had never heard of Ultimate Frisbee before coming to WashU, but I quickly became a part of the Ultimate community and traveled to different tournaments and competitions. I was also a member of a computer science club and business fraternity.
What inspired you to make your first gift to WashU?
I attended WashU thanks to generous scholarship support. My scholarship allowed me to focus on school and explore everything the university offers. I made my first gift to ensure other students will be able to experience WashU as I did. And I want other young alumni to know they don’t have to reach a certain age or earn a specific salary to give back. They can contribute now with gifts of any amount. All of the people and all the contributions add up. The collective impact of these gifts together allows the university to support students in the most impactful way.
Why do you think it is important for alumni to give back to Washington University?
I am thrilled WashU adopted a need-blind undergraduate admissions policy. Outstanding students who want to attend WashU should be able to receive the best education possible regardless of their financial means. I also support students because we all need help at different points in our lives to be successful. As an undergraduate, I didn’t know how to apply for jobs or ace an interview. I didn’t even know what it meant to be a product manager at Google. Dozens of alumni taught me those things. Alumni need to give back in order for students to truly succeed. And that creates a domino effect. Your support benefits today’s students and everyone they will impact over their lifetime. They will become alumni and support future students, who will support future students. It’s a continuous cycle.
Tell us about the nonprofit you founded and why you support your local community.
My wife and I started Street Mama to feed homeless people in San Francisco. We found that most homeless people don’t have access to high-quality or desirable meals. They can go to a soup kitchen and get rice and beans, but they never get a hot pizza, pasta with meatballs, or anything that might be on our regular dinner menus. Our goal is to feed others how we want to be fed. We started small. Instead of cooking dinner for two, we cooked dinner for three. While my wife set the table, I would walk down the street and find a homeless person who wanted a hot meal. They’d always be so happy and excited. More than a year later, we’ve provided thousands of meals and plan to raise funds to expand our work.