There are few, if any, college sophomores who have a resume as impressive and crowded as that of Mielad Ziaee. It reflects his deep personal commitment to helping the community he loves. Yet, one can’t help but wonder where he gets the time to do all that he does.

              The 19-year-old University of Houston student, whose three years of volunteer service to the Red Cross reaches back into his high school days, is a Texas Gulf Coast Regional Preparedness Lead Volunteer. But that’s just part of his story. Among a litany of the other activities, Ziaee’s community outreach includes Red Cross volunteer recruitment and engagement, teaching Farsi as part of the organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, participating in the national Sound the Alarm campaign and serving as vice president of the U.H. Red Cross Club.  And did we mention that he works with the university’s Tilman J. Feritta Family College of Medicine and is a student at the Honors College where his ultimate goal is to earn the combined degree of MD – Master of Public Health?

              Balancing a heavy load of educational and public service activities “takes a lot of planning,” Ziaee said. “But it’s something that I genuinely love doing.”

              As a first generation Iranian American, Mielad understands the challenges that come with not being prepared for disasters. He says volunteering for the Red Cross gives him an opportunity to both educate the community about disasters and to help manage crisis responses.  “I hope to leverage the strength of the community and my education to make a real world difference,” Mielad has written on his LinkedIn page.

              “I think there’s a slogan in the Red Cross that says we are everywhere, every time, in rain or shine,” he said. “That mission is very aligned with my own passion. The Red Cross has access to many diverse communities and the resources to make change.

              “I jump at any opportunities to make a change and have an impact for my community,” Ziaee added.

              Mielad’s commitment to public service extends to volunteer work for the Harris County Department of Public Health. He has recently been accepted as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow and will be working with Afghan refugees in the Houston area. Ziaee has also been an undergraduate researcher and a Pharis Fellow at the U.H. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute conducting health equity and data science research.

              “I’m very passionate about giving back to my city and my community,” he said. “And so, do I have time for it? Sometimes, no. But I do my best to find time.”

              When asked where his passion for community service comes from, Ziaee credited his parents. He added that he has also fed off the passion of the professors, community leaders and Red Cross volunteers with whom he has collaborated.

              “What the Red Cross gives you is an opportunity to really to get to know people, whether that be in the field or internally, he said. “I’ve really been able to meet so many different mentors who’ve gotten me so far where I am.”

              The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information about volunteering or contributing to the Red Cross’s mission, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS, visit or, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Story By: David Guth