A.S. Elections: Ali Athar

“My campaign is based on entrepreneurship and leadership, and I have a lot of background in starting up my own companies, as well as leading groups and incubators,” Athar said. “I feel like that background can be specifically useful at UCSD.”

Athar’s business instincts were first sharpened in high school — he helped start a private business venture with the non-profit organization Junior Achievement. The company grew from its lemonade-stand roots with pen sales to slowly become a successful advertising company under Athar’s business leadership. Eventually, the company, which sold discounted tickets to local neighborhood haunts, amassed $15,000 to $20,000 a year.

Athar’s early venture into business and marketing only followed him to UCSD. One of his most successful current ventures is a property management business, in which he helps place students in housing.

In addition to his full course load and business management, Athar is working with his slate, Innovate, to nail down concrete goals such as a bike-sharing program. Athar clearly does not dawdle around with vague campaign promises — his idea of offering microloans of $500 to $1,000 to students with personal business plans is backed by funding initiatives that could only come from someone with years of experience.

“Obviously not every single business I’ve started was successful, but I do have a lot of background in starting up companies, so that’s where I want to bring my leadership and entrepreneurship skills to UCSD and to help UCSD students become inspired to start their own entrepreneurial ventures,” Athar said.

Athar’s business plan with a heart of gold comes from emulating one of his role models, Magic Johnson. Johnson is what you would call a “social entrepreneur,” the rare sort of individual who could turn a profit while making the streets of South L.A. a better place.

“Magic Johnson has done it all,” Athar said. “He’s an incredible investor, and he’s making movements both socially and business-wise.”

Athar is nothing if not a student at heart. Each of his business ventures requires him to pick up a new skill — for example, his property management business sent him on the path to getting his real estate license. And despite his already strenuous course load as an engineering major, Athar makes time to take classes outside of his discipline, such as French, visual arts and non-fiction writing.

“I have a problem where I try to learn more than I need to, but it is really fun and I really enjoy it,” Athar said. “And you know, it keeps me sane because engineering is so brutal.”

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