Reda Jaber is shy. The graduate student is soft-spoken and seems nervous to talk about himself, at least initially. In the busy lobby of the Ross School of Business, where he is interviewed, it is questionable whether the recorder will even pick up his voice.
He doesn’t give long-winded answers to the questions directed his way, an anomaly for many people, and especially those who have accomplished as much as he has.
To say that Jaber’s curriculum vitae is simply impressive would be a disservice.
The Dearborn native graduated with Highest Distinction from the College of Literature, Science & the Arts in 2008, where he attained a 3.98 GPA (“I stayed away from girls in undergrad,” Jaber joked of the accomplishment), and received a Masters of Science in Clinical Research from the School of Public Health in 2011.
In May, he will receive a Masters of Business Administration from the Ross School of Business and a Doctor of Medicine from the Medical School.
Reda Jaber is humble. His parents Mustapha and Salwa, immigrants from Lebanon, didn’t attend college. But they encouraged Jaber to work hard and pursue his dreams. His older brother, Ryan, who also attended the University and is now a physician, is his biggest influence, although Ryan has only one graduate degree. When he was young, Reda wanted to be just like him.
“I didn’t grow up with much and I’m trying to take advantage of the resources and the situation I’ve been put in,” Jaber said. “I think it would be a shame for me not to try to take on multiple projects.”
Reda Jaber is a visionary. A 27-year-old with three graduate degrees is a feat in and of itself. But it is his extracurricular achievements that are truly admirable.
Jaber was awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to spearhead research about the prevalence of depression and stigma in the Arab-American community in 2011. The research, which is still ongoing, led to expanded availability of mental health screening tools for over 1,500 youths in the Dearborn area.
Jaber and his girlfriend, LSA senior Sara Abraham, are currently writing a children’s book entitled “Visionary Kids” — just one of the hundreds of items on the couple’s Google Doc to-do list — which will focus on the life of Steve Jobs and teach kids the values of creative thinking and entrepreneurship.
“Growing up they teach you about the traditional careers … But I wanted to unlock children’s potential early on when it comes to entrepreneurship,” he explained.
Eliciting information from Jaber takes time. He doesn’t boast. But according to his CV, he has written countless papers and received numerous awards and distinctions. He currently has six jobs and serves on the boards of two different campus organizations. He can speak and understand Arabic and is fluent in Spanish.
Reda Jaber is passionate. When he discusses MI-Happy, a HIPAA-compliant smartphone app he co-founded that “engages patients to address a gap in adherence to mental health treatment plans,” Jaber finally seems comfortable.
In fact, while Jaber eloquently described his research interests and academic accomplishments in the medical and science fields, it’s obvious by his smile and energy that entrepreneurship and creative problem solving are his true passions.
“I feel like a kid in here,” Jaber said, with a sweeping hand gesture across the lobby. “There’s so many resources, so many things to do, so many opportunities. I enjoy it here a lot.”
“There’s a lot of influences here at the Business School with my classmates, especially the entrepreneurially-minded ones,” he added. “I’m really influenced by their drive in general. The best part of getting an MBA is the people you meet … it’s a great atmosphere because everyone’s trying to help each other.”
Reda Jaber is humble. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and attending live comedy shows. He said he wishes he had the courage to attempt stand-up, but he doesn’t possess the skills required for the “art form.” He looks up to comedians.
When he explains how he met his girlfriend at the Fishbowl two years ago, Jaber cracks a self-conscious grin.
“She was working at the Fishbowl and I asked her what time the Fishbowl closes, even though I’d been going to the Fishbowl for eight years,” he said, laughing. “I knew when it closed.”
After graduation, Jaber will work at Incwell, a venture capital firm, where he will be in charge of funding for healthcare-related startups.
Beyond that, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of writing a second children’s book with Abraham or finishing his medical residency in the future. That’s not to say he won’t miss the University, where he’s spent the past six years learning and growing into the person he is today.
It’s the atmosphere provided at a place like the University that Jaber said allowed his creativity and vision to take root and flourish.
“When you’re a student it’s one of the only times where you can experiment with anything. If you fail as a student, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “It’s all part of the learning experience.”