Office of Alumni Relations

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Like many people, Saif Khan (B.A.’07) chose VCU for its vibrant urban campus, but his college experience was far from typical. As a member of the Virginia Army National Guard, he was deployed to Iraq in his sophomore year in 2004, and didn’t know when he could resume his education.

Saif safely returned after nearly a year and a half, and, with the support of student veterans and other resources at VCU, he completed his degree in political science.  

Khan is now committed to making a positive impact in his community, whether that’s in his role as chief of staff of the U.S. Selective Service System or as president of the VCU Alumni Military Veterans Alumni Council. Learn how VCU prepared Saif for leadership roles, professionally and beyond. 

What did you love about your VCU experience?

My time at VCU was invaluable in shaping my academic and personal growth. I appreciated the hands-on learning opportunities, supportive faculty and the diverse student community. I was deployed to serve in Iraq in the middle of my sophomore year at VCU and had to withdraw from classes mid-semester after receiving deployment orders. It was a major disruption, as I had just settled into a good routine to balance school and personal life. While I was deployed to serve in Iraq, I missed my time at VCU because I did not know if I would ever make it back and have the opportunity to complete my education. 

After concluding my combat tour, I returned to VCU and restarted my education. I collaborated with fellow student veterans to help launch the Student Veterans Association at VCU. Attending VCU instilled a sense of responsibility and service in me, which has benefited me to this day.

What do you do professionally? How did VCU prepare you for what you do and who you are today?

Currently, I serve as the chief of staff of the U.S. Selective Service System, where I lead strategic initiatives to enhance enterprise integration, customer experience, workforce diversity, equity, inclusion, access and efficiency, human capital management, and promote interagency collaboration and policy compliance.

I have the pleasure of serving on the Advisory Board for Veterans Affairs for the District of Columbia and on the board of advisors of the Diversity in National Security Network. I’m also honored to serve as the president of the VCU Alumni Military Veterans Alumni Council, where I actively engage with fellow alumni veterans to foster connections, mentorship and community engagement.

I previously served as attorney adviser to the general counsel at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and as vice president of the World Veterans Federation. My time at VCU helped prepare me to take on various leadership roles as I learned how to manage priorities and not to give up when challenges arose. I was lucky to have mentors who guided me along the way. I set realistic goals and worked to accomplish them. 

Tell us about your military background and how it shaped who you are today.

My military background as a combat engineer in the Army National Guard significantly influenced my leadership style and approach to challenges. As noted, I deployed to serve in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During my time in the military, I learned the importance of teamwork, adaptability and perseverance in high-pressure environments. These experiences instilled in me a sense of duty, resilience and a commitment to serving others, qualities that continue to guide me in both my professional and personal life.

What excites you about the VCU Alumni DMV Chapter? What are you looking forward to this year?

The DMV alumni chapter offers a unique opportunity to reconnect with fellow VCU graduates and contribute to the university community. I’m excited about the prospect of networking, mentoring and collaborating with alumni who share the common bond of VCU. This year, I look forward to engaging in collaborative initiatives, fostering connections and making a positive impact within the alumni community and beyond. 

During Memorial Day week, as we remember our fallen heroes, the VCU Alumni Military Veterans Alumni Council will gather May 28 for a Richmond Flying Squirrels game, where our vice president and fellow alumnus Chris McIntosh (M.A.’14) will throw the first pitch. 

Around Veterans Day, we look forward to organizing an event that brings alumni veterans together to promote networking and to thank them for their service. We have partnered  and worked closely with the VCU Military Student Services team to present graduating student veterans with resume padfolios as a gift along with an invitation to join the Military Veterans Alumni Council, and we intend to continue this in the future.

I’m grateful to the VCU office of alumni relationsOffice for its ongoing support that enables us to plan events to bring our alumni veterans together.

Why should alumni stay connected with VCU?

Staying connected with VCU is essential for fostering a sense of belonging, continued learning, networking and professional growth. Alumni play a crucial role in supporting current students, contributing to the university’s success and creating lasting connections that extend beyond graduation. By staying engaged with VCU, alumni can leverage resources, networks and opportunities to make a meaningful difference in their communities and industries.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Beyond my professional endeavors, I am deeply passionate about giving back to my community and supporting causes that are important to me. Volunteering has always been a significant part of my life, and I find immense fulfillment in contributing to various organizations and initiatives. Whether it’s mentoring aspiring leaders, advocating for veterans’ rights or promoting diversity and inclusion, I am committed to making a positive impact wherever I can. These volunteer experiences have not only enriched my life but have also reinforced my values of service, empathy and compassion. I believe that by actively engaging with and supporting our communities, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

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