Abdul Aziz was born in Bangladesh and moved to America in 2004 along with about 45 family members.

“It was my whole family—four aunts, a bunch of cousins,” he explains. “I had no English, not even the alphabet.”

What he did have was great educators who he says invested in him, explaining the American dream and how it can be accomplished. Their efforts lead him to where he is today, a graduate recruiter who takes pride in paying it forward.

We spoke with him about his background and his hopes and dreams for the students he works with.

You didn’t necessarily plan to work in education. How did you end up here?

I majored in political science and economics. I always had the ambition of becoming a diplomat. I even got a position offered to me in Bangladesh to work with the first secretary of education, but I couldn’t take it due to family obligations. I’m the oldest son, which means I have different responsibilities.

My biggest skill is being a people person. I am an educator, an organizer. I bring people together. I took my first role as a high school guidance counselor with an organization called NYU College Advising Corps. They hire recent grads and put them in underserved communities to help students figure out what’s next. I took students on a lot of college tours.

Many of them don’t have a real role model that they can look up to. Often, I was the first one to invest in their future. I was the guy that cared. I would show up early and leave late because I understood these kids were depending on me. The experience ultimately swayed me to stay in education and led me to where I am today, trying to serve the same goal.

Well in a sense, you did end up becoming a diplomat—for Brooklyn College’s graduate programs.

Ha, true. A little story: There was a young woman who was my valedictorian when I was working for the Advising Corps. A great student—ambitious, had the grades but didn’t have the necessary support. We were able to get her a great financial aid package. She went to SUNY New Paltz. Fast forward four, maybe five years later. I’m on the quad and there she is yelling my name! I gave her a great hug and she said, “I just graduated and I’m applying to Brooklyn College.” She got in, and now she’s about to graduate with her master’s degree later this month. It was a full-circle moment. Sometimes you help a student, and you know they’re going to continue to better themselves, but you don’t always get to see it. That made me so happy.

I can tell by your enthusiasm. Not everyone gets to have a career with so much impact. What makes a good recruiter?

I come to work with an intention. If I can make a difference in somebody’s life, or if I can help them open or get access to just one door, that could change not just their life, but their whole family structure. I work with a lot of international applicants. If we guide them the right way and they get a good job, sometimes they’re improving conditions for 10 families back home.

In many ways, I am one of these students. I check all the same boxes that they check off: socioeconomic, education, background, culture. I can relate to them, which makes my job easier.

What’s your pitch? If I’m a prospective student, why should I come here for graduate studies?

We have over 75 advanced certificate and graduate programs. Our education programs have been top tier within all of CUNY over the last five to seven years and they have excellent partnerships with the nearby Department of Education schools.

If you are interested in a business program, we’re AACSB [Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business] accredited, and in New York City, that puts us in the company of only Baruch, NYU, and Columbia. But you’re paying Brooklyn College tuition, which is $5,575 per semester, and you’re getting a network worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that the other students at NYU and Columbia are paying for. But it’s the same access.

In any of our programs, you get to take advantage of our networks and partnerships. The opportunities are endless. Here at Brooklyn College, we have an excellent campus, excellent faculty members, and a diverse group of students all learning under the same sky. We offer the best experience.

I’m Sold.

Great, come to one of our next events. I’ll save you a slice of pizza.