Student Fellow Spotlight: Parnia Mazhar Tell the Stories of the Center, Michigan Online and Their Global Learners and Teachers

Parnia Mazhar, Communications Student Fellow

Parnia Mazhar is the Communications Writing Fellow at the Center for Academic Innovation and has been working at the center since January 2020. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she is currently a junior at the University of Michigan studying political science and communications. As a fellow, she works on writing and editing stories about center courses, events, milestones, employees, and the stories of a global lear

Parnia Mazhar
Parnia Mazhar

ner and teaching network. She also creates the monthly newsletter that highlights notable news and events from the center. Throughout her time as a fellow, she has worked in email marketing, communications, social media and graphic design. After college, Mazhar hopes to pursue a career in broadcast journalism and news production, and this summer, she will intern for NBC Nightly News.

Mazhar recently sat down and talked about her experience working at the Center for Academic Innovation.

What has been your favorite part about being a fellow at CAI?

Being a fellow at CAI has allowed me to meet so many great and talented people within the U-M community and from across the country. If I wasn’t a fellow, I wouldn’t have been able to have all of the unique interactions that I’ve had during my time with the center. I’ve loved being able to interact with so many different people and gain a deeper understanding about online learning, especially when it became even more critical during the pandemic. 

What surprised you the most after you started your fellowship at CAI?

I honestly wasn’t aware of how many different and important departments there were at U-M, and how much of an impact Michigan Online has had on the global community. I wasn’t that knowledgeable about online education and extended reality (XR) before starting my fellowship at CAI, but this experience has opened my eyes to a completely different side of education that I hadn’t been exposed to before. It’s been really cool to see how much the CAI staff does for the development of education, not only for the university, but for people across the world.

How do you think your fellowship has prepared you for your future career?

In the future, I hope to have a job in broadcast journalism, specifically news production. My fellowship has definitely helped prepare me for my future career because being a news producer requires you to have many skills, including excellent writing skills, the ability to edit graphics, the ability to meet tight deadlines, and more. Being a Communications Writing Fellow at CAI has given me exposure to all of these areas and allowed me to practice these skills for the past year and a half. I’m really grateful for the opportunities that were presented to me here.

What’s one writing tip you want to share with other students?

I would suggest always going into your stories and articles with an open mind! Sometimes, it’s easy to make assumptions about how an interview or story is going to turn out, but it’s important to remember that a lot of the time, our biases can get in the way of the actual truth coming out. I never really know the angle of my piece until after I’ve done all my research and conducted all my interviews. I think this makes the story so much more genuine, so I’d definitely encourage having that open perspective.

What memory stands out to you during your time as a fellow?

Most of my fellowship did happen during the pandemic, so most of my memories are surrounding virtual events. Something that stands out to me was during our weekly Marketing and Communications team meetings, we would always have a different theme to follow, and would change our virtual backgrounds to match that theme. It’s a small thing the team does, but it always lifted the mood during our meetings and allowed everyone to get to know one another a bit more. I always looked forward to seeing what people chose and sharing what I chose as well.


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