When Nasser Al-Rayess ’14 was at SI, he produced a video of students, faculty and staff at the school lip-syncing and dancing to the hit song "Happy" that was viewed tens of thousands of times and raced through the SI alumni network. Today, he's built upon his experiences working on multimedia with Mr. Yosup Joo and Dr. Don Gamble, and putting together his salutatorian speech with Mr. Peter Devine, to amass a significant following for his work on social media platforms, particularly on Tik Tok (@naw_sir), where he had more than 245,000 followers as of this writing.
"I'm creating content about food, about dating, a series about red flags, about my Middle Eastern heritage," he said. "The biggest thing is I'm trying to be myself the entire time. It's been an incredible, joyous ride."
Currently, Al-Rayess is an MBA candidate at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, and he's consciously aiming to use that training to bolster his burgeoning profile as a digital creator.
"I'm trying to develop my entrepreneurial skills. One of my big goals is to have a production platform that enables people who are from similar backgrounds as me to tell their stories. For me, personally, as a Muslim in this world, social media has been great because I get to have the feeling of being welcomed by a large audience and included in a broader conversation. That feeling of inclusion is similar to how I felt at SI. My brother and I always felt included, like we were part of the SI family, and I believe that allows people to reach their full potential."
On a daily basis, he's focused on getting better at his craft while holding on to those bigger dreams.
"I don't worry about comparing my numbers to other creators," he said. "Whether one of my videos gets 10,000, or 100,000, or 1 million views, I see my job as making the viewer feel better about themselves. If I achieve that, then I'm doing the right job. And ultimately, without Mr. Joo, Dr. Gamble and Mr. Devine telling me to stay true to myself, I wouldn't be in this position. They were foundational to the career I'm building."