Professor pays it forward through education

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Mahmud Yusuf goes to Zacaltan, Mexico every spring break to teach small business administration. For three years Yusuf has taught at the Instituto Technológico Superior de la Sierra Norte de Puebla for free. The money he would have made is donated to the Sultana Yusuf scholarship, named after his deceased mother. This is granted to the top student of the class and pays for one whole year. Amaru Ruiz

At spring break, Dr. Mahmud Yusuf traveled to Puebla, Mexico, to teach entrepreneurship.

By Geoffrey Hovatter

Dr. Mahmud Yusuf, coordinator of banking and financial services, traveled to Puebla, Mexico, to teach students at the Instituto Tecnólogico Superior de la Sierra Norte de Puebla in Zacatlan, during spring break.

“If one can change their life, I won the race as a human being,” Yusuf said March 8.

He taught 43 students small business administration in an intensive five-day workshop.

Yusuf taught two classes per day 10 a.m.-noon and 3-5 p.m.

Each day, students examined one of five concepts taught in the workshop. Those subjects are the entrepreneurial life, integrity and ethics, starting a small business, the business and marketing plan and the location plan.

At the beginning of the spring semester, the business department at the institute informs third-year business majors about the class.

The course is internet-based.

While attendance is required, there is no final exam.

The institute instructed Yusuf to teach in English to help prepare students for the business world outside of Spanish-speaking countries.

Yusuf said he loved the idea of only speaking English to his classes because it gives them the chance to learn more.

All of his classes had a translator to help translate English for students who struggle with the language.

“I speak slowly for my students to make it easier for them to learn from the class,” Yusuf said.

The words that students struggle with most are business terms such as “entrepreneurship” and “ethics.”

Yusuf said Spanish-speaking students struggle to understand these words because of how similar they are in Spanish and English.

To help with this problem, Yusuf puts on YouTube videos with Spanish and English subtitles for his students.

Yusuf said student behavior is one of the biggest differences he has seen between Mexican and American students.

“They (Mexican students) always stand up when I come into class, they listen to you and won’t argue with you,” he said. “It’s more ‘he’s the professor,’ accepting the role of what a
teacher plays.”

Both Yusuf and his students earn a participation certificate in small business administration at the end of the week, but it is not an accredited course.

The idea to teach outside of this college originated four years ago when three students from his business class, Manuel Zuñiga, Manuel Lastiri and Rene Castaneda who are from Puebla, Mexico, approached him about teaching at the institute.

They told Yusuf they knew the dean of the institute and wanted to see if he would be interested in teaching classes there.

On spring break 2016, Yusuf traveled to Mexico City and drove two hours before arriving at the institute to meet with Raul Espinosa, the dean at the time.

He agreed to teach small business administration courses at the university, but instead of being paid for his work, Yusuf wanted to have his compensation of $1,000 go to something more important than himself.

He instructed the institute to put his pay into a scholarship, which pays $1,000 to a business student to cover tuition for fall and spring.

The scholarship is named after Yusuf’s late mother, Sultana Yusuf.

“I do this because I feel at times you have to give back, not just take,” Yusuf said.

In 1954, Sultana Yusuf and seven other women founded a nonprofit organization called the Women’s Rehabilitation Center in Pakistan. The center was created to help provide education to women and continues to help women in Pakistan today.

“I credit a lot of the work I do today because of how my parents raised me,” Yusuf said.

Yusuf’s interest in business came from his father, who owned one hotel and three restaurants in Pakistan.

“I grew up around business people my whole life,” he said. “I grew up in the hotel and restaurant environment. It had been my life.”

He remembers the ways his mother helped people and how those lessons stayed with him.

“She was always there for her community, and that
really helped me understand how important it is to take care of people,” Yusuf said.

“I hope to continue doing this for the next four to five years,” Yusuf said.

For more information, call Yusuf at 210-486-0195.


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