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Bilal Bahar

Bilal Bahar

undergraduate community studies and civic engagement student

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

High School: Forest Park High School

Transferred from: Baltimore City Community College; Community College of Baltimore County

Student status: Nontraditional student

I am a social entrepreneur.
I am a change agent.
I am living my purpose.

I have always dreamed of getting an education and becoming a successful social entrepreneur. However, growing up in poor neighborhoods in Baltimore City, this dream often eluded me. This feeling changed when I volunteered on a trip to Abuja, Nigeria, in 2006. During my visit, I asked a group of educated men (Andrew Young, Martin Luther King III and John Hope Bryant) to teach me to be as articulate as they were. Their response was, “read, brother.” These two words, “read, brother,” motivated me to start an 11-year journey to functional literacy. I came back to Baltimore and immediately enrolled at CCBC, and 9 years later, I received an Associate Degree in Business Administration. Soon thereafter, I transferred to the University of Baltimore.

I always dreamed of getting an education and becoming a successful social entrepreneur.

Armed with fresh knowledge and a strong sense of accomplishment, I entered UB ready to give back to the Baltimore neighborhoods where I was raised. However, the starting point had me stumped. I focused more time on developing my skills and expanding my network. I initially applied to the Merrick School of Business Entrepreneur Fellowship program, but I was not accepted. Instead of giving up, I changed my focus and entered the Interdisciplinary Studies program in the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences. My concentration included community studies, civic engagement, business and communications. After two years of perseverance and hard work, I graduated from UB in fall 2016 with a 3.5 GPA and bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Programs like Savor UB and support from my mentor Stu Silberg, along with guidance from the Achievement and Learning Center, gave me the confidence I needed to begin my service to Baltimore and beyond. 

In 2015, I started Evolve Community Foundation, Inc. Our mission is to "create and preserve long-term sustainable community wealth and a better quality of life for the students, families and stakeholders of the communities we serve." Our after-school leadership programs are designed to challenge an often self-destructive urban culture by giving students a place to learn, create, express and bring new life to their communities. Now, at the age of 42, I know what it feels like to “live my purpose!”

Last Published 9/5/17