"...And then everything changed"
To say the last 18 months have been intense is a gross understatement. You’ve navigated a global pandemic, civil unrest and a deep reckoning with racism—all while many classmates completely changed how they lived and worked in an instant. External change often sparks internal growth, and the panelists will share their reflections on the changes in their lives, either from the last 18 months or since you graduated 11 years ago. These include changes in goals and priorities; changes to mindsets and values; even changes to identity. Class Panel will be a rare opportunity to come together as a class for an intimate conversation. Your classmates hope to see you there!
Mohammad Mehdi Ali
I am currently a PhD Candidate in Religion at USC, where my research focuses on legal and exegetical discourses in the Islamic tradition. I also moonlight as a corporate lawyer for several Silicon Valley startups. I graduated from Stanford with a J.D. in Law, M.A. in Sociology, and BA in International Relations. Since graduating from Stanford, I have gotten married, traveled to more than 40 countries, and learned 3 new languages. My time at Stanford was invaluable because it taught me that I am the master of my own destiny - and that if I want to do something, the only thing stopping me is myself. This is what inspired me to make a radical career change and to move abroad for a year.
My favorite study spot at Stanford is definitely the Green Library stacks.
My most cherished Stanford memory is taking a course in human geography that completely changed the trajectory of my life. I had done pre-med coursework in my first year, but upon walking in this class in my second year, it felt like my eyes had been opened. As someone who had grown up outside of the US, it was wonderful to just listen to a professor talk about all these different areas of the world in such a beautiful way. It was one of the catalysts for my interest in the humanities.
Belinda Ju is an executive coach, product coach, writer, dancer, and meditation community convener in Brooklyn, NY. Her fondest memories from Stanford are RA'ing at FroSoCo and Synergy, making lifelong friends through the student nonprofit Gumball Capital, and studying abroad and traveling to four continents. One surprising and beautiful development during COVID was a deepening of her meditation community as it moved from monthly in-person gatherings to weekly Zoom meetings, embraced multiple practices of liberation including art and activism, and expanded across the country. You can find her online at www.belinda.io.
Andrea Taylor Lindsey
Dre Taylor Lindsay is a strategist for the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She is from Los Angeles, where she lives with her daughter and husband, Pitch (also Stanford class of 2010).
The past twenty months in COVID have brought immense change for Dre: she faced the joys and isolation of new motherhood in the pandemic, oversaw the construction of a house she designed, guided her small apparel company through an uncertain economy (and eventually, unexpectedly, had to sell it), and navigated the choice between stay-at-home parenting work or an opportunity at a formal workplace.
Favorite Stanford study spot: Cantor Arts Center - it was so calming to study among such beautiful visual pieces. Whenever I was taking an architecture studio course, Cantor provided boundless inspiration.
Favorite green space: Lake Lag. I remember freshman year when it actually had water (!) and you could take a (risky but fun) dinghy boat out on it. My now-husband and I had one of our first dates on a picnic bench along Lake Lag. And one experience is seared into my brain: tailgating in a friend's SUV on the shore, then having to get the SUV towed because it had sunk into the mud over the course of the tailgate.
I currently lead the Data Science team at Infinitus - a startup using conversational AI to reduce inefficiencies and costs in healthcare. I also spend my time performing as a musician where I fuse Indian traditional music with Jazz. I am currently based in San Francisco.
Covid was a difficult time as a musician, since much of Indian traditional and jazz music involves improvisation between the musicians - much like having a spirited conversation where each person feeds off the energy of another - which is very hard to do when you're social distancing. That said, technology did allow us to conduct virtual concerts where we performed for thousands of folks watching all over the world (from California to New York to India).
On the other side, Covid really made me appreciate entering the healthcare industry. Covid has really put a lot of strain on healthcare workers and patients, and we are hoping that through technology, we can give them resources to do more with less.
At Stanford, one of my favorite memories was celebrating Holi - an Indian festival celebrating the arrival of Spring - which is characterized by a lot of colorful powder thrown around. What was amazing about it was seeing so many people from different races and backgrounds coming together to celebrate together - and we gave it a very Stanford touch by ending it with an epic fountain hop.
My favorite study spot would have to be the Stanford Coho. I loved grabbing a nice hot beverage and hearing some students perform some great music. It also holds a special place in my heart as that's where I got my start as a performer!