Facial Rayani Finds Community, Passion at Minnesota State Mankato
Faical Rayani has never been a typical student. From starting his own registered student organization to becoming President of the Minnesota State Student Association (MSSA) he has impacted both people and policies at Minnesota State Mankato. Now as state chair of Students United, he continues to use his leadership and passion to bring positive change to the Minnesota State system.
Before starting his journey at Minnesota State University, Mankato, Rayani was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. He came to Mankato to continue his education in Information Technology and will graduate this May. He was welcomed as an international student and immediately felt a sense of community on campus despite being in a new culture.
Soon after arriving, his first opportunity for involvement opened up in the residential halls, where he became a floor representative for the Residence Hall Association. Later, he would be elected vice president. That position provided his first public speaking opportunities, which helped him gain confidence in his abilities to be a leader and courage to address important student issues.
Rayani also contributed three years as a member of MSSA before being elected president. In one of his proudest positions, Rayani was the face for Minnesota State Mankato students. He tirelessly worked to raise awareness, affected change for issues on campus, and advocated for inclusion, equality and success.
Although he believes he has always been a natural leader, Minnesota State Mankato has taught Rayani its true definition. “Leadership is not telling people what to do and how to do it,” he says. “Leadership is about listening to people, empowering them, figuring out their strengths and giving them the right opportunities. That is what I have learned from student government–you are serving them, they are not serving you.”
Rayani’s involvement in student government has led to his current role of state chair for Students United. Students United is a non-profit, student-led organization serving 65,000 students across the seven Minnesota State Universities. Here, Rayani is able to affect powerful policy change and bring new ideas to Minnesota State Mankato and the rest of the Minnesota State system. In his role, Rayani has been working on a “Carbon Commitment;” the goal is to have every university president sign a promise to become carbon neutral. He’s also working to draft a textbook-affordability master plan that will be presented to each university to alleviate student concerns about the rising costs of textbook. His most successful project has been seeing affirmative consent get passed by the Minnesota State Board of Trustees after three years of work. With this policy change, every public higher education institution in Minnesota will practice affirmative consent. Rayani says, “This is huge, we are setting a precedent for the nation, the country.”
Rayani’s numerous successes on campus and across the state can be attributed to his passion for the Minnesota State Mankato community. In Mankato, Rayani has always felt that he belonged and that his opinion mattered. He found the encouragement to grow, develop and thrive. He believes that to be successful you have to love the people and the organization you represent.
“Here at Minnesota State Mankato, people want to be here,” he says. “They grind every day. They are making a difference and contributing to this country’s wealth of information and talented workforce development.” Rayani’s legacy continues as his powerful influence to impact change spreads across the University, the state and the nation.