Five Minutes With...Michael and Michael

Five Minutes With...Michael and Michael

By Dale

Five Minutes With...Michael and Michael

By Dale
Get to know Michael and Michael, two seniors and best friends who started Miami Veterans Philanthropy, one of the newest student organizations on campus!

Michael Qureshi is a microbiology and immunology major set to graduate in 2018.

Michael Leyva is studying sociology and criminology and will graduate in 2019.

The two of you co-founded Miami Veterans Philanthropy (MVP), a service-oriented student organization. What motivated you to do it?

Michael Qureshi: I saw the need for a student organization that could help veterans in Miami ever since I started volunteering at the Miami VA Hospital. Since there were no student organizations dedicated to serving vets, I thought why not make one? I approached Leyv about it, and he loved the idea. We helped motivate each other, always keeping in sight our goals of having an org dedicated to volunteering at the VA and raising money for veteran charities. Thankfully, we had each other to bounce off of for ideas and support.

Michael Leyva: I wanted be a part of something special that would last after I graduated. Service was a large part of my high school experience and sometimes it’s hard to find time to keep that going in college. I wanted to reintroduce that into my life while also helping other students interested in service fill that desire. Being able to learn more about the veteran community was something that really interested me since I’d never taken the time to do that before.

Michael Leyva and Michael Qureshi


What’s it like launching a new student organization?

Qureshi: As stressful as it is rewarding. When you launch an org, it feels like your baby. You want everything to go right and every little hiccup feels like the end of the world. But when all that effort pays off and you see the fruits of your labor, it makes it all worth it. Despite the gray hairs, I would start MVP with Leyv all over again.

Leyva: It’s a lot of work. When we started MVP, we had to think out pretty much every detail about what the club was going to look like and how it was going to operate. After that, it’s all about marketing yourself as something other students would want get involved in. With so many organizations on campus, it can be hard to stand out. It was important for us to make sure we were doing something worthy of attention and unique, which I think we are.

Where do you hope to see MVP in five years?

Qureshi: I hope MVP will continue to serve our veteran community but with bigger and more trips to the Miami VA and bigger and better versions of our events In Their Boots and Colors of Service. I look forward to the events future e-boards will work on with the Veteran Students Organization, and I hope that MVP will be able to instill a love of service for those who have served across campus.

Leyva: Still in the hands of people who are passionate about growing the club and doing more to have the UM community engage and have fun with veterans in Miami. 

Why is service important to you?

Qureshi: Service is an integral part of who I am and who I strive to be. Service lets me change and make better aspects of my community I am passionate about. It allows me to be a part of something greater and the feeling of satisfaction is unlike any other. Service lets me give back to those who need it most, and our veterans have already given it all.

Leyva: Doing service helps me stay connected to my community. I think everyone who’s from Miami shares some responsibility in what goes on in our city and we have a tremendous ability to make an impact. I’m lucky to be in a position where taking a little bit of time out of the day to help someone out at the VA hospital or somewhere else is an easy thing to do, and if such a simple thing like serving food or having a conversation can make someone’s day better, why wouldn’t you want to do it? 

Do you have any hidden talents?

Qureshi: I’m a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, I play guitar, and I’m decent at beatboxing thanks to an obsession with it in middle school.

Leyva: I play piano!

Tell us about your favorite place on campus!

Qureshi: I love Einstein’s Bagels. From Ms. Johnnie Mae brightening up my day to the generally quiet ambiance perfect for studying, I’m there very often. Great for meetings, too, and I love that they’re open so late.

Leyva: The lakeside patio late in the day is a great spot to be, especially during the sunset. It’s nice to watch the sky change over the lake after a long day.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened because of your shared first name?

Qureshi: I can’t think of a precise moment, but it’s been pretty funny being Michael and Michael, and there’s no shortage of jokes when we introduce ourselves. We even had a running joke before our e-board was picked that the M in MVP stood for Michaels. At least it’s easier to remember our names!

What three films could you watch over and over again?

Qureshi: I’d have to go with Kill Bill Vol. 1, Nacho Libre, and Hot Fuzz. I’ve seen them all a bunch of times already and still haven’t gotten tired of them.

Leyva: The Matrix, Toy Story 2, The Dark Knight!

Finish the sentence: Being a ’Cane...

Qureshi: ...means giving it your all.

Leyva: how I met the people that will have the greatest positive impact on the rest of my life.