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Lessons Learned, Part X

Lessons Learned, Part X

UD Alumni October 25, 2021
A continuing reflection on life acquired in and out of the classroom — from the classes of 1990, 2013 and 2018, all from one family.

Preferably on a porch

Ali Rizvi ’18

Bachelor’s in human rights studies

Social Worker

New York City


My mother always told me, “Do what you love, and the rest will fall into place.”

Time is precious. Cherish every day and intentionally incorporate practices into your life to slow down time and be present.

Growing up in post-9/11 America taught me empathy and understanding — it taught me to align myself with those on the margins who feel like they have been unjustly categorized into a box that didn’t do their story justice. Once we stop pretending that our soil is more precious than that of our neighbors, we will hopefully remember that we all share the same flesh. 

Few things bring me more joy than sitting with old friends outside — preferably on a porch — chatting away into the night. 

“Few things bring me more joy than sitting with old friends outside — preferably on a porch — chatting away into the night.”

My family has always been outspoken — advocating for racial, religious and educational justice in a town, community and country that is not always so kind to those who advocate for justice. My interest in social work began at a young age with the core values my parents instilled in me. Children do not choose the life they are born into, the color of their skin, or the circumstances they must work to overcome but we, through our shared humanity, must work to recognize the inherent value of each person.

Home is where your family is, whether that’s the family who raised you or the family you have built along the way. It’s where you feel supported. Home is getting a hug that you have been waiting for a really long time.

Some advice from Professor Natalie Hudson will always stay with me: “Don’t freak out until you have options.”

The most challenging part of my work is letting go and reminding myself that I tried my best. As much as I want to fix the entire broken system, it starts with being present with those who are right in front of me.

Growing up in a family of blended cultures opened my eyes to a much larger world outside of small-town Vandalia, Ohio. Traveling frequently to Pakistan became an integral part of my childhood and fundamentally shaped my worldview. As a kid I never dreamt of a common good just for the people of the United States, but for all of humanity. Regardless of the imaginary lines we have placed on maps, we are and must be a global community.

Give yourself the love you deserve. Nourish your soul. Feed your heart. Help others. Keep on grindin’.

And lastly, say “yes” to everything!

Two sons, mother and father, the Rizvi family.
The Rizvi family


No Strangers at UD

Qasim Rizvi ’13

Bachelor’s in pre-physical therapy, master’s in physical therapy ’16

Physical Therapist



As a Flyer practically since birth, I love the sense of community that UD gives you. From day one on campus, everyone welcomes you. There are no strangers at UD. Everyone loves their neighbor.

Living in the UD neighborhood senior year with my five best friends was amazing. You really take that for granted when everyone moves away after college and you realize how special those times truly were.

Life is like a team sport. To accomplish a task as a team, you need everyone to buy into the goal you want to achieve. Comradery and teamwork are important qualities in day-to-day life. It’s always important to listen with an open mind to others — they may help you see something in a positive manner that can really make a difference. Build each other up and be a positive influence in the life of each person you meet.

“Build each other up and be a positive influence in the life of each person you meet.”

Growing up in a family of blended cultures taught me that everyone isn’t that different from one another. We all want to live a fulfilling life where we find meaning every single day. Growing up with family all over the world has helped me become more tolerant of people from all walks of life. It has helped me set aside bias and look for the greater good in each individual.

Marriage has changed me for the better. I get to share life with my best friend, Alaina Bowling Rizvi ’13. You become unselfish because you are always looking out for your partner and making sure that whatever you are doing, you are doing it together as a team. As a result, I’ve become a better communicator and make sure that we are always on the same page. When Alaina and I were married, we really didn’t think that our journey was any different than anyone else’s. In today’s world it is easier for love to find its way regardless of a person’s particular background, so we never really thought that we were crossing any boundaries with our love. The world is slowly becoming more tolerant of people from different walks of life finding love with one another. When my parents married, it was much more difficult for them. They truly broke all boundaries. My parents set an example that love always wins.

My job as a physical therapist is very rewarding. Through movement, I help people get back to their daily lives – whether that’s work, school, athletics or home life. It feels good to know the care I provide improves the quality of my patients’ lives.

If I could go back, I’d tell my 18-year-old self to invest in relationships with others, to build connections with people and to always go out of your way to help someone in need ... and to always keep learning, to bring out the best version of yourself every day. Looking forward, I would tell my 60-year-old self to continue to keep in touch with your family and friends. Make a random phone call to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while to catch up and make sure they are doing well.

My parents have always been my role models.They taught me to treat others how you would like to be treated. There’s always room for kindness and respect in this world.

The secret: being fully present

Teri Rizvi ’90

Master’s in English

Executive Director of Strategic Communications, University of Dayton


Vandalia, Ohio


Love certainly makes the world go ’round, but a cappuccino (with skim milk) makes any day better.

I’ve discovered you can create community wherever you go if you’re willing to connect with new people, whether it’s the barista at a Parisian café, the innkeeper at a bed-and-breakfast hotel in London or relatives you’re meeting for the first time in Pakistan.

Good friends challenge you to be your best self. They allow you to be vulnerable — and show vulnerability in return. They’re nonjudgmental, available when you need them and, above all else, they’re loyal.

“Good friends challenge you to be your best self. They allow you to be vulnerable — and show vulnerability in return.”

Being fiercely committed to your life’s path, to being fully present in your work and your relationships, may be one of the secrets to a fulfilling life. It may be the secret.

For me and my siblings our first real job was at the Airline Dairy Creme, the family-owned restaurant.

Working in a family business teaches you the importance of teamwork and reliability. Looking back, I learned a simple life lesson: always show up. (I’m partial to the vanilla-chocolate swirl soft-serve.)

I’m not exactly a poster child for balancing family and work, but I do subscribe to author Anne Lamott’s view: “Perfectionism is the enemy of the people.” Do your best every day — and let it go.

I met my husband in London in 1980. He was working in an accounting firm and I was interning as a business writer for McGraw-Hill World News. He was intrigued by my life as an American journalist. I thought he had a kind heart. One major obstacle: his family, by Islamic custom, had already arranged a marriage for him. He loves his family deeply and is not a rebel by any stretch of the imagination, but he turned his back on his pre-ordained destiny. When his mother requested that we get married first in Lahore, Pakistan — a city I couldn’t place on a map at the time — we readily agreed. We followed up the Muslim ceremony with a Catholic wedding in my Ohio hometown. For four decades, we’ve had a foot in both cultures. You build bridges by cultivating relationships and respecting differences. It’s amazing how many pre-conceived assumptions you let go of when you share a meal and conversation with someone different than yourself.

To be a communicator, you need to be a person of integrity who can build genuine relationships of trust with others. Other A-list traits: a collaborative spirit, humility, vulnerability and an openness to all perspectives.

My children, Qasim and Ali, bring the greatest joy to my life. I’m blessed to be their mother.

Lessons Learned, Part IX