Amna Musallet, ’24, Exercise Science / Pre-PT

Amna Musallet at the RU Troost campus

To feel at home is to feel welcome, safe, and comfortable enough to be yourself.

For Amna Musallet, Rockhurst has been home since summer 2020, but the freshman from Overland Park, Kansas, wasn’t sure that would be the case – in more ways than one.

Musallet is an observant Muslim, and Rockhurst, although having 20 different faith groups represented on campus and student diversity rising six consecutive years to 36%, is primarily a Jesuit Catholic institution.

On the surface it’s a traditionally improbable match, but one made possible by a community willing to embrace everyone.  

“Although I am a part of a minority, I have always felt comfortable and at home at Rockhurst,” she said. “I have met so many amazing people that allowed me to deepen my knowledge of religion and the beauty of our differences.”

Musallet took Intro to World Religions with Dr. Maureen Walsh her first semester. As part of Musallet’s honors option, she was asked to interview people of different faiths and write a paper showing reflections within each religion.

“I was fortunate to interview a Shia Muslim, Sikh, Non-Denominational Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, and Atheist,” Musallet said. “As the world we live in is constructed from religion, this experience showed me that I lived in a bubble my entire life. There was so much more to my neighbors’ beliefs. Learning and understanding another’s way of life sparked my curiosity to continue a lifelong journey of educating myself on the beauty of life and the lives of those who live in it. Intro to World Religions invited me to reflect upon the world and myself and, by doing so, taught me to turn my focus away from finding similarities towards identifying, learning about, appreciating and embracing our differences.”

The class made an impact on Musallet, but she made an impact on Dr. Walsh as well.

“Amna is just a phenomenal student,” Walsh said. “So fun, personable, and engaging.”

Rockhurst has six core values informed by Jesuit values, including “Finding God in all things” and “Care for the whole person.”

“My freshman year hasn't even ended, and here I am, amazed by how Rockhurst is transforming me into a better person than I was the second before I walked onto campus for orientation,” she said. “It all began the moment I decided I wanted to come here, a Jesuit Catholic school. As a Muslim, I am inspired by the godly atmosphere on campus that encourages me to become a better Muslim and believer in God.”

Musallet almost didn’t make it to campus, and the admissions process was rather unpredictable for her despite Rockhurst being her “dream school.” That decision-making process started in middle school when she first heard of Rockhurst.

“I saw this couple that had Rockhurst gear at the movie theatre and the older friend I was with was like, ‘Oh, wow, he goes to Rockhurst; that's a really good school.’ I was like 11, so if I heard any school was a good school, it was the best school out there. As I got older, I started to see that Rockhurst really was a great school, especially because it aligned with all my values.”

When it came time to choose a school, Musallet knew she wanted to stay close to home and narrowed her choices to Rockhurst, KU and UMKC. RU would stay solely a dream, however, as she thought the tuition would be too much. She switched her focus to the other two schools, but still couldn’t make a decision.

“Deep down [Rockhurst] is where I really wanted to go and it has always been that way,” she said. “Without any actual intention of going there, I applied for the heck of it. Maybe a week later I got an acceptance letter and a scholarship. That is when my dream turned into a reality. I was so stoked!”

Now finally on RU’s Troost campus, she’s had to work her way through an unusual college experience due to pandemic-related safety precautions. That hasn’t stopped her from fitting in.

“I honestly do feel like I have been able to be a part of the university despite our current environment,” she said. “The challenges of making new friends most definitely rose but it also made me want to overcome them even more by putting myself extra out there whilst wearing a mask over my face. It really just depends on how you view the situation. If you want to be a part of something you are going to do it regardless of what you have to face. Whereas if you shy away from little inconveniences it can only take you so far.”

Academically, Musallet is an exercise science major who wants to attend grad school in the physical therapy program and one day run her own clinic. She finds the business side of this new dream appealing.

“Last semester I took Business, Leadership, & Social Issues and I really enjoyed that class and learning about social issues involved in leadership,” she said. “It made me realize how much I love the business industry more than I thought I did.”

Her involvement goes well beyond academics, as it does for most in the Rockhurst community.

“Along with SEEK Interfaith Council, I am a part of PURPOSE (health science majors), NSLS (National Society of Leadership and Success), and the Student Advisory Council on Belonging, but I hope to be more involved,” she said.

SEEK stands for Spiritually Engaging Everyone’s Knowledge. It is part of Campus Ministry and aims to increase understanding/appreciation among people of different/no faith traditions while growing in awareness of one’s own faith tradition.

Her involvement with SEEK is representative of her place in Rockhurst’s community as a whole. She has found a home in a community built as a Jesuit-Catholic institution but whose doors wide open to all.