B.B.A Business Administration student, Life U Men’s Rugby player and President/Founder of the Muslim Students’ Association- Life U Chapter

As a South African from a small village in Cape Town, Ishma-eel Safodien grew up in “a place that is small but that is rich in culture, rich in tradition and rich in potential.” He described this time in his home country as integral to his personal growth and the development of his values and belief system. Safodien comes from a family of entrepreneurs, creative and business-minded individuals making a name for themselves, like his mother who owns a baking company and his father who works in retail.

Naturally, Safodien followed the family path in his current pursuit of a degree in Business Administration. But Safodien appreciated that his parents and his family have given him the freedom to go down his own path, not dictating where exactly he needed to set his sights.

“The business program at Life U is a very comprehensive business program. There are a lot of opportunities here for students to get involved with entrepreneurship clubs. But also, there is a lot of opportunity for students in class to do presentations, and I think that public speaking is an important skill, knowing how to present in front of people, being confident while speaking,” said Safodien. “That’s what I think is a standout in the Life U business program, because it helps you to learn how to confidently and competently learn how to speak in front of people.”

After graduating from high school, Safodien dreamed of going abroad for college and playing rugby, and the Life U Men’s Rugby team gave him that chance.

“Life U is the best rugby program in the country, and it’s known as one of the best chiropractic schools in the country. I wanted to associate myself with the best because I like to surround myself with people that start with excellence, and I knew that would have an effect on me. That’s why I chose Life U,” said Safodien.

When not running down Lupo Family Field or doing coursework, Safodien can often be found in the Fitness Center working as an attendant, helping the Life U community keep fit and healthy.

The one thing Safodien said he enjoys the most about Life U is the diversity of the people here.  He has met people from Iceland, Sweden, Hungary, Somalia and countless more far-reaching places. In fact, it’s a fun fact that currently 10 percent of the student body at Life U is designated as international.

In that spirit of promoting diversity and community, Safodien founded the Life U Chapter of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) and serves as the club’s president. This is the first student organization of its kind at Life U, and Safodien hopes for it to serve “as a representative body for all Muslim students on campus, that gives Muslim students an opportunity to find their identity on campus.” Safodien at first didn’t know any other Muslims on campus, so now this group serves as a natural gathering place.

The MSA serves as a valuable resource of information for Muslims on campus as well, letting students know, for example, where the nearest mosques are or where they can purchase halal foods (foods permitted to be eaten by observant Muslims).

The group has enjoyed being able to recently have its first in-person meetings, which were put on hold due to COVID-19. Muslim students at Life U along with the larger Muslim community in the U.S observed Ramadan this year from the evening of April 1 to the evening of May 1. Traditionally, observers of Ramadan fast during this time, so the group came together to break their fast together on Eid at the end of Ramadan, as well as to begin to settle on a charity initiative they would like to get involved in as a community.

“Those are all massive and important aspects of being a Muslim. It’s about giving, it’s about spreading love and sharing the knowledge of Islam. I think the MSA has brought a lot of meaning to my life and my experience here at the University. It’s given me an identity, and hopefully, that’s the same for any and every Muslim that comes onto the campus,” Safodien said.

At first, Safodien admitted nervousness over how he might be perceived on campus and if his faith in Islam might make him stick out. But he needn’t have worried. Safodien was welcomed as another diverse individual that makes Life U such an invigorating place to be.

“I thought that people weren’t going to accept me because I live a slightly unique lifestyle, but I think my teammates on the Men’s Rugby team and the friends that I have created, the faculty and staff were just amazing. They were open to what my beliefs were and wanting to learn,” said Safodien.


This article was originally published in Your Extraordinary Life (YEL), Life University‘s Alumni and Friends Magazine, 2022- Volume 15. YEL started in 2009 as a twice-per-year publication before moving to three issues per year from 2010-2017. In 2018, University leadership made the decision to publish a larger, more elegant version of the magazine just once per year that our alumni and friends could be proud of. YEL features an in-depth look at all things Life University, from alumni and student human interest stories to recaps and previews of the University’s biggest events. If you are a proud Life University alumni, friend or supporter, this publication is one you can’t miss!

Read the latest issue and past issues at this link or pick up a print copy on campus.