Q&A with the Spring Interns

Story by Zoya Zia

The Institute for Diversity & Civic Life is excited to welcome four new interns for the spring. These interns will work on projects to increase outreach in the community and meet the goals of IDCL.


My name is Zoya Zia and I am a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. I am majoring in International Relations & Global Studies and am interested in matters of diversity and inclusion. I enjoy writing about these topics and finding ways to promote human rights at home and abroad.

What’s your favorite quote and why?


“A man who stands for nothing falls for anything.” – Malcolm X

This is my favorite quote because it encourages me to be unapologetic and stand up for what is right. Being conscious of social issues and their causes is the first step to finding their solutions.

What made you want to work with IDCL?

Although I strive to learn more about international relations and different cultures around the world, I recognize the importance of building initiatives on a local level. Change starts close to home, when a group of people collaborate towards a common initiative. I am honored to be a part of this group with IDCL.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with IDCL?

I aim to learn more about the barriers minority communities face in Austin and across Texas. Through various events and programming, I want to help bring these communities together and provide a platform in which they can share their experiences and work towards a better future.


Ramsey Al-Azem

Ramsey is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin. He is majoring in Corporate Communications and minoring in Social Work.


What’s your favorite quote and why?

“You’re never a loser until you quit trying.” -Mike Ditka

Many people are critical of others that don’t “succeed” immediately or achieve what they set out to accomplish right away. I love this quote because it reaffirms that the only way to lose is if you let yourself lose. Effort is everything, and as long as you’re still trying, you’re not out of the game.

What made you want to work with IDCL?

I am in a Communications course this semester that requires you to intern somewhere in Austin for the semester. When I found out about IDCL, I immediately knew this was the place I wanted to intern at because of my personal ties to the Middle East and the opportunity to make tangible difference in my time over the semester.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with IDCL?

I am very much looking forward to the #ThisTexan campaign and hope that I can play a role in its success. I also hope to be able to improve the social media platforms that IDCL uses to greater spread the word about the organization and expand its impact.


Meili Criezis

Meili Criezis is a senior at Southwestern University. She is majoring in History and French.


What’s your favorite quote and why?

“Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.” – Frantz Fanon

It’s hard to pick a favorite quote but I like how Fanon captures ambiguity and uncertainty. His quote acknowledges human agency without predetermining the outcome of what that agency (or lack of agency) will lead to in the future and it recognizes the fact that much of the groundwork in “discovering a mission” can go unnoticed.

What made you want to work with IDCL?

I first heard about the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life at a UT panel on Islamophobia in Texas where I met Dr. Tiffany Puett. As an intern at IDCL, I will document cases of anti-Muslim bias within the state of Texas since 2016 and will also be working on a project concerning how this anti-Muslim bias affects Texas Muslims. While political developments have been greatly concerning, engaging in initiatives to counter prejudice is resistance.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with IDCL?

At IDCL, I hope to contribute to already existing research on anti-Muslim bias and gain work/research experience in a non-profit organization.


Miguel Robles Marquez

Miguel is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. He is majoring in Communication Studies.


What is your favorite quote and why?

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai

This is my favorite quote because besides the fact that I just find Malala inspiring, it resonated with me that we need to make our voices heard in order to make a positive change in the world.

What made you want to work with IDCL?

I wanted to work with IDCL because the impact that they are working towards making in the community is very important and necessary especially in the current social atmosphere that has been surrounding us. Lack of inclusion has been an issue that many communities have faced and are continuing to face and I wanted to be part of an organization that is working to improve this.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with IDCL?

During my time working with IDCL, I hope to become more aware of the issues facing our community pertaining to lack of diversity and inclusion. Not only be more aware of the issues themselves, but I also want to be able to recognize how I can do my part and continue to spread positive dialogue among our community.

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