Medinah E. Muhammad ’16 made the most of her Montclair State experience, turning an internship into a career. Muhammad currently serves as the Chief of Staff to New Jersey Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake. In her role, she is responsible for managing the daily functions of Assemblywoman Timberlake’s legislative district office including policy analysis and research, and serving as a direct representative of the office.
“My career is still developing, and I look forward to the possibilities that the future holds,” she says. “This role is so fulfilling because I know that I am making a long-lasting difference.”
Muhammad is a great example of how the connections students establish can result in big post-graduation opportunities. During her senior at Montclair State, she wrote a letter to Assemblywoman Timberlake, then president of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, in which she expressed her interest in learning more about local government. To her surprise, she received a call from the freeholder president’s office and was invited to come in to meet with her.
Muhammad was soon offered an internship at the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ office and “gained a mentor” in Assemblywoman Timberlake. Eager to learn more about the field of law and government, she would come into the office on her days off to gain a greater understanding of the field.
“I would come to the office every week to learn about the different policies, complete administrative tasks and conduct research,” Muhammad says. “I networked with others and was not afraid to ask questions.”
Her hard work payed off as she was offered a position upon graduating from Montclair State. She started her career as a legislative aide before being promoted to public information officer.
“My experiences at Montclair State helped me become the person I am today,” she says. As a Red Hawk, Muhammad learned about the importance of hard work, responsibility and networking. After taking various courses in her field, she realized how important it was for her to apply what she learned in class to aspects of her life.
Montclair State was not an unfamiliar campus to Muhammad as her mother, Kenya Couch ’95, was once a student at the same institution. With an interest in both Child Advocacy and Policy and Political Science, Muhammad decided to major in both fields.
Being a double major didn’t stop her from being involved in various extracurricular activities. She worked as a service assistant for Residence Life and as a resident assistant in Sam Mills Hall of Machuga Heights. In addition to these roles, she was also a member of the executive board for Golden Key International Honor Society, the American Red Cross, and the Complexions Band Dance Team. In 2016, Muhammed was recognized for her hard work in Residence Life as she was awarded the Raymond Stover Leadership Award. After graduating from Montclair State, Muhammad continued her education by earning a master’s degree in Political Science from Rutgers University – Newark.
Muhammad is not only thankful for the education she received at Montclair State but also for the professors she met along the way. She recalls two professors that influenced both her academic and professional career.
For Muhammad, Dr. Saundra Collins’ courses and her teaching style are unforgettable and unmatched. “I remember running into her at an event, and she quizzed me on questions about the coursework just to see if I still remembered,” she says. “How could I not.”
Professor Avram Segall led her Political Science and Pre-Law internship course and became a great mentor who always encouraged her to never give up. An assigned reading project by Professor Segal, titled My Beloved World, changed her life and the way she viewed women in leadership. “I’m very grateful to him for assigning that life-changing book,” she says.
Reflecting on her experiences as a student and the career opportunities that came her way after graduation, Muhammad wishes to give students one simple but important piece of advice: “Never give up and always dream big.”