By Jennifer Ward
As of late, the name Nahiem Paris is well-known on the Purchase campus. Many know him as the name behind the rallies, controversies and discussions surrounding systemic racism and Black students’ experiences on campus this past semester. How well does everyone really know him, though? Behind all of the rallies and posters, who is he?
Paris is a 21-year-old Purchase College second-year sophomore. He is a hardworking student, whose friends look up to for advice, and professors praise. When meeting Paris, something draws you to him.
That smiling face that you see bouncing around campus, constantly running place to place is most likely him.
Sophomore Jasmin Deleon, Paris’s friend, said, “I just knew that everybody liked him. Every time we go somewhere it's like ‘Hey, Nahiem!’ He knows a lot of people and a lot of people love him. If a lot of people loved him there has to be something about him. And I see what they mean!”
Friends and people close to Paris seemed to have nothing negative to say about him. They attested to his bright, radiant personality.
“He’s just bubbly, always happy, always smiling. If you need help he doesn’t hesitate to help, he always has answers for everything,” said Deleon.
“Nahiem is a very outgoing person,” said Purchase sophomore Justin Pruitt, a good friend of Paris. “He’s very high energy, positive, and understanding. He’s very fun. I feel like he’s always the life of the party.”
Paris does not like to be still. He constantly talks about how you can never find him just laying in his room. Whether he is in class, at work, at rehearsal, or hanging out with friends he is always on the move. He likes to stay involved in many different activities around campus.
Recently, Paris has been involved in multiple student films, a play on campus entitled “Frame(D)”, as well as his own dance team he founded and captains called “Fusion X.”
Paris said, “When I looked into clubs and stuff here I was like ‘there’s not a lot.’ If no one's going to put on a dance team, why not be the one to do it?”
So, with the help of his friends, Paris created a dance team here on campus. Paris and his friends joke around with each other and have a light dynamic at rehearsals that makes someone feel instantly comfortable walking in.
Many may fold, snap, or break during such a trying time like the one that Paris went through this semester. Even with the threat of suspension, and protests around campus surrounding him, Paris never let it break who he was.
“Everyone was asking me ‘how am I so calm?’ I said, ‘I’m calm because I see how you guys are fighting with me. You’re not fighting for me, you're fighting literally with me,’” Paris said. “So numbers actually make power because when we all protested it just made me happy because you just see everybody’s here and angry because this is unfair.”
Even though everything was falling apart, Paris never stopped being productive. “I just never stopped because I felt like it was something that kept me sane here on campus,” he said.
Even his arts management professor, Janis Astor del Valle, sees this in him.
“Obviously because of the issues he’s had to grapple with this semester I think it's really affected him,” Astor del Valle said. “It impacted his ability to realize his full potential. My impression is that what he had to go through is really horrific and I wish to God it didn’t happen.
“But he has still managed to come to my class and participate,” she continued. “He’s doing his best to be as diligent as possible given the circumstances.”
Remaining as he did during such a stressful time speaks more to Paris’ character than anything else could. Pruitt said, “He was very calm about it. This has been something that has been happening over the course of like weeks. During the whole process he was like ‘everything is going to be alright’ and ‘I’m gonna get clear of the charges.’”
Although Paris was able to rise above all of this and go public with his story to ask for help, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t easy.
“I am so much of a Scorpio that I suffer in silence,” Paris said. “I would rather not show a huge struggle sign on my back. I would rather people think that I am doing better than I am.”
Paris’ reaction to such a jarring situation speaks so much to him as a person. His friends describe him as reliable, upbeat, and passionate. Just one conversation with him in his apartment, laying back in the chair with a big, eager smile on his face can tell you all that.
Paris is very open about the struggles he went through during this situation, but he can still remain open about what he learned.
“I personally think that I have grown with patience. I have grown with realizing I have more self-worth. I’ve grown out of insecurities. I feel like I actually have more self-love for myself now,” Paris said.
Paris is so much more than just the face of a cause. For one, he is an active video game player. As well as someone who enjoys cooking, driving, and cleaning because he finds it “therapeutic.”
The Buffalo native is a transfer student from Buffalo State College who transferred to Purchase to become a performer. Dance and acting are easily two of Paris’ biggest passions in life. His eyes light up and he sits on the edge of his seat even at the mention of it. Seeing him in his element is something special.
"I think he seems very dedicated and interested and engaged,” Astor del Valle said. “I think he really has a passion for the arts, particularly theater, acting and dance.”
Above all, Paris tries to focus on the important things in life. Many would describe their greatest strength as something superficial or in a bragging manner. Yet not Paris.
“I would have to say my greatest strength is living in the moment. Being present I guess you can say,” Paris said. “I never worry too much about what's going to happen in the past or the future because I am just always there and present.”
Yet with all of the greatest qualities that surround Paris, his sense of humor has to be the most comforting. When asked about what he wants people to know about him, he instantly joked, “I’m single!”
Paris said, “I feel like I bring my truest up to the table wherever I go. That's why it's so tough for me to answer because honestly...I think what I bring to the table is always the true me.”