Khadija Mir knew UMass Lowell was the right school for her on her first visit to campus.
“Everyone was really sweet, trying to help people get around,” says Mir, an honors business administration major from Bedford, New Hampshire. “I knew I made the right decision. I knew this was an environment that I would want to grow in.”
Helping others is important to Mir. She says it’s a value that her parents instilled in her and her two younger siblings.
“We are first-generation immigrants to the U.S., and my parents have always been helping people while advancing to where they are now,” says Mir, who was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and grew up in several countries, including England and Canada, before her family settled in New Hampshire when she was in middle school. 
In high school, she developed an interest in business — and her passion for helping others — after joining DECA, which prepares students for business careers and entrepreneurship through case-study competitions.
“I was part of a mentorship program where I could elevate people and boost their self-confidence by giving them simple tips,” she says. “That really made me feel good.” 
Realizing she would have to start college remotely from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mir enrolled in the UML Launch! Summer Program. She was able to take two virtual courses, Microeconomics and Business 101, at a reduced tuition rate, as well as a free seminar on entrepreneurship and innovation.
“It was great to get a head start on my academics and make connections with professors and other students,” says Mir, who also got to know her college-based advisor. “Seeing the people I’d be working with helped make Zoom classes better.”
Mir, who intends to concentrate in management and management information systems and minor in computer science, was awarded an Immersive Scholarship, which pays for students to do research or study abroad after their first year of college.
“Hopefully I can do an internship in person, because I really value that sense of connection working with people,” she says.
Mir, who attended several virtual events hosted by the Joy Tong Women in Business student organization during her first year, is excited to take classes in person on the campus that made such a favorable first impression.
“I’m looking forward to the day when I can study at a big, grand desk in a library instead of the little desk in my room,” she says.
Until then, Mir focuses on the positives.
“I’ve learned how to manage myself in a crisis. I’m journaling, and I’m getting better at organization, which is something I struggled with in high school,” she says. “And I never thought I’d be an online learner until I was an adult, but that’s one of the beauties of this online learning situation: We’ve been exposed to an unconventional way of education.”