Q&A with Fatema Basari, member of Forbes 30 under 30


Photo courtesy of Fatema Basrai

Brandon Armstead

Fatema Basrai, 27 year old first-generation college student is currently pursuing her MBA in Finance at UTSA and was recognized last November in Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30. Each year Forbes selects 30 innovative individuals under the age of 30 in one of 20 businesses or industries. Basrai was selected in the education category. She was nominated for her 8-year involvement in various education programs from AmeriCorp to her current work as executive director of Leadership San Antonio Independent School District. 

How did you react when you found out you were nominated for Forbes’ 30 under 30?

I found out I was nominated in October when a reporter from Forbes contacted me and told me that I had been nominated, but that the official list would be published in November. I was really surprised that I made the list. I am very grateful and humble, and I actually still don’t know who nominated me.

What does being a member of Forbes’s 30 under 30 mean to you?

It is a nonprofit organization that develops leaders who are interested in serving public schools in some way. I am the executive director of Leadership SAISD and our goal is to focus on making public schools and public education better for San Antonio students.

What does education mean to you?

To me, education has always been a way of opening up more pathways. Growing up in Oklahoma and Texas I always went to small rural schools where I sometimes didn’t get the same education as friends of mine who went to bigger and better public schools in the suburbs. I got into education because I noticed the disparity that lives even within the same public education systems. For me, it has always been about making things better and improving outcomes for all students. Right now, one big issue facing San Antonio is that there are so many school districts within the city and where you live and your zip code can have a big impact on the education you get and the type of schools you attend. My focus has always been on helping people figure out what we can do as a community to make all of the schools better, so that no matter where students live, whether they live on the Southside of San Antonio or the Northwest side, students have access to a really great school.

What advice would you give to fellow UTSA Roadrunners?

The biggest piece of advice I could give to any fellow classmate is to find something you’re really passionate about and focus on it 100 percent. I know it can be easy sometimes to chase the job title or the higher pay, but unless you’re really passionate about something and you feel good waking up every morning doing that work, it’s going to be hard to be successful. You just have to be passionate about what you do and give it 100 percent.