Michael Najem, Timothy Dwight ‘20 by Lena Chan

June 26, 2020

The person who coined the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” must have done so with Michael Najem in mind.

I met Michael at the beginning of my first year at Yale in the Timothy Dwight (TD) courtyard. Still indignant about my random assignment to a residential college whose first-years did not live on Old Campus, I was skeptical when meeting my TD “Big Sibs.” But what I lacked in residential pride Michael made up for tenfold in his enthusiasm for friends and mentors in TD. He seemed like the kind of guy who always got things right, who never strayed from his beliefs, who made comrades quickly and easily. I, on the other hand, could barely find the laundry room without getting lost and still struggled to finalize my class schedule—let alone my major and larger career interests. His confidence intimidated me. I quickly concluded that we probably shared nothing in common.

I was wrong. Michael’s journey has twisted and turned in ways similar to my own. Like me, Michael grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood as the child of immigrant parents…

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