Mubaraq Alli ’20 Named a Winner of New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship

Mubaraq Alli ’20 Named a Winner of New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship

Mubaraq Alli ’20 Named a Winner of New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship

The New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship speaks directly to John Jay’s commitment to social mobility and uplifting underserved communities. Mubaraq Alli ’20, one of the inaugural recipients of the fellowship, knows just how powerful a helping hand can be for an individual or a community. As a young child, he lived with his grandparents in a small town in Nigeria that had no access to clean water. So, he made it his mission to get up early every day, walk to the nearest clean water source—which was several miles away—and collect fresh, clean water for his grandparents. “They were taking care of me, the least I could do was help take care of them,” says Alli, a Criminal Justice major, pointing to this experience as the source for his desire to help others. And now, thanks to the New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship, he’s working with the Bronx Defenders, a public defender non-profit based in the Bronx, New York to help communities and advance criminal and social justice reform. “The New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship brings me one step closer to attaining my dreams of helping underrepresented and underserved communities,” says Alli, grateful to the New York Giants and John Mara, President and CEO of the New York Giants for the opportunity. “Through this fellowship, I’ll be gaining valuable hands-on experience and help promote positive changes in low-income communities and for those individuals leaving the criminal justice system.”

“The New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship brings me one step closer to attaining my dreams of helping underrepresented communities.” —Mubaraq Alli

Moving to America
Coming to the United States at the age of nine, Alli’s journey from Nigeria to becoming winner of the New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship wasn’t an easy one. He struggled to acclimate to life in New York with its fast-paced lifestyle and cold winters. “I arrived in December 2010 in the middle of a snowstorm. It was my first time seeing snow and New York felt like another world to me,” he says. Transitioning to school was especially tough for Alli, who found himself feeling isolated. “Middle school was really difficult. I had a thick accent, so kids in the school knew I wasn’t born here. I had to deal with a lot of kids bullying me and calling me demeaning names. High school was just as tough, but I kept my head up as best as I could, stood up for myself, and made it through,” he says.

“At John Jay, I’ve been able to find my passion. I’ve zeroed in on social and criminal justice reform and the programs in place that work to ease the transition from prison back to society.” —Mubaraq Alli

Coming to John Jay
While Alli had big dreams for himself, he found that as he approached high school graduation, his future path wasn’t clear. “I didn’t really plan for college. I had no real focus. But then my son, Nasir, was born, and that’s when my priorities and purpose changed,” he explains. The birth of his son made Alli take a hard look at what he was doing with his life and provided him with a greater sense of clarity. “My son was my motivation to do better in life. I was at this point where I decided that I wanted and needed more out of life, so I applied to John Jay.” At the College, Alli found a community of peers who focused their energies on uplifting underserved communities, a desire that resembled his own. “At John Jay, I’ve been able to find my passion. I’ve zeroed in on social and criminal justice reform and programs that work to ease the transition from prison back to society. I have this deep desire to help criminal-justice involved individuals and individuals in low-income communities. They deserve to have a chance to succeed and thrive in life, and my hope is to offer them a helping hand.”

“I want to fight for the individual rights and civil rights of those who are transitioning from the criminal justice system back into society; for those who live in our poorest communities; and for immigrants.” —Mubaraq Alli

Winning the Fellowship
For Alli, the New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship symbolizes a big step toward achieving his dreams. The New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship means a lot to me because it helps pave the way to my dreams of becoming a lawyer and community advocate. I want to fight for the individual rights and civil rights of those who are transitioning from the criminal justice system back into society; for those who live in our poorest communities; and for immigrants,” says Alli. “With the Bronx Defenders, I’m working hands-on with members of the community. I’m helping folks fill out paperwork for housing, for food stamps, and other forms of assistance; directing people to attorneys that can help with court hearings; and, I’m working with individuals who left the criminal justice system and are trying to reintegrate back into society,” he explains. Looking to the future, Alli hopes to continue working with community organizations to uplift others and to strengthen his advocacy skills and deepen his own understanding of the criminal justice system. “After I graduate from John Jay, I’m hoping to work with the Vera Institute of Justice, and then go on to law school. My goal is to continue working on the ground level in our communities and also as a lawyer advocating for the rights of others,” he says. “It’s really powerful, moving work because it’s all about lifting others up, helping them when they’re down, and enabling them to see their potential. And that kind of care and support changes lives for the better.”