Naveed Arif Iqball Keynote Lecture
Recognizing innovative approaches to reducing mental health stigma.
Recognizing innovative approaches to reducing mental health stigma.
The Naveed Arif Iqball Keynote Lecture highlights the work of individuals who are creating change in the understanding and advancement of college student mental health. It’s held annually at the Depression on College Campuses conference.
The support for this lecture is provided by the Naveed Arif Iqball Mental Health Advocacy Endowment Fund, established by Arif Iqball of Kyoto, Japan, in memory of his son, Naveed, who sadly lost his battle with depression in 2019. He believed stigma prevented his son from seeking treatment or sharing his struggles with his family and friends. Through this lecture, Mr. Iqball hopes to raise awareness about student mental health and reduce stigma throughout our communities.
Oluwaferanmi "Dr. O" Okanlami, M.D., M.S., director of Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services, University of Michigan, and clinical assistant professor at Michigan Medicine has been selected to present this year's Naveed Arif Iqball Keynote Lecture.
Dr. Okanlami will deliver the closing keynote entitled Disabusing DisabilityTM: Demonstrating That DISability Doesn't Mean INability at the Depression on College Campuses conference from 3-4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13 at the Rackham Graduate School in Ann Arbor. This lecture is free and open to the public.
Biography written by Naveed’s father, Arif Iqball
“To me, there is no greater feeling than knowing you helped someone, regardless of how it was done.” Naveed not only wrote those words in his high school days but also lived his whole life on these principles.
Naveed Arif Iqball was born May 14, 1993, in Southfield, Michigan, the son of Arif Iqball and Candida Iqball, and grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan. Extremely curious and encouraged to try anything, Naveed became a tae kwon do black belt at age 9, a boy scout at 10, actively competed in chess, and tried almost every sport available to him, while also playing piano and trumpet during his early years. Reflecting on these years, Naveed wrote, “Playing chess helped me be patient throughout life and try to solve problems in multiple ways, and it helped me value strategy in any type of competition.”
Naveed’s childhood photographs are filled with happy memories. “One of the most important things I learned from my grandfather in elementary school was how to be respectful and try to be as selfless as possible, be it with elders or kids.” He lived his life with the same goodness and humility that he witnessed growing up. Naveed developed an early interest in helping elementary children and volunteered his time with them in high school.
Naveed loved being a part of a team. Being a member of his high school varsity tennis team for three years before taking a leadership role as a captain was a very meaningful role for him. “I realized how to not only be part of a successful team but also to lead that successful team so that everyone can reach that potential.” This love for helping people reach their full potential was a strong element in Naveed becoming a coach after graduation from the University of Michigan. I learned the distinction between “I had a choice to be good, instead of feeling pressure to be good” and leveraged this with his students. From a very early age, Naveed was aware of his multi-cultural, multi-ethnic background and viewed it as a gift. “Having a diverse background is something that I am proud of.” Visiting his father in Japan on multiple occasions, and traveling with him in Italy opened his eyes to the joys of global travel. “I love seeing the different types of people, traditions, ideas. They simply astound me. I know that my experiences can help me by bringing together each person’s unique abilities in order to best treat my patients. Every action I take impacts my future; every action I perform, I do it to better myself as a person and help me in my quest to become a doctor.”
Naveed graduated from Lakeview High School in 2011 and followed both his parents by attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He was interested in mental health, public health, sport and performance psychology, and movement science, and eventually obtained a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology in 2015. He was part of the initial prototyping team for Centricycle, an organization that developed an affordable and easily accessible blood centrifuge for use in rural areas in India, and was a co-holder for a patent on a modular centrifuge device. Naveed worked with Dr. Edward Chang in the Department of Psychology, and with Dr. Susan Brown in the Motor Control lab, studying how age and cognitive loading affect grip force. Post graduation, Naveed continued to work in Dr. Chang’s lab during the Summer of 2016 and was involved with several posters at the Association for Psychological Science annual convention held in Chicago.
Following his graduation, Naveed started coaching full-time at the Huron Valley Tennis Club, where he seamlessly became a guiding force for many players and co-coached a junior team tennis squad to first place in the sectional championships in Indianapolis. Naveed enjoyed working with kids on both the physical and mental aspects of the sport and had the ability to connect with and inspire them. Along with coaching at Huron Valley, he was a competitive tennis coordinator for the USTA junior team, a tennis co-coach at Fr. Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, and a board member at the Ann Arbor Area Community Tennis Association, where he was also a singles champion. His passion for playing and teaching tennis was evident to all who knew him.
Naveed’s favorite food was sushi. It reminded him that sometimes simple things are the best, and relating to life, when used in the right ways, can really make a difference. People who called him a friend also knew him for his love of sour beer, tart cherry juice (often with Sprite), and Wendy’s Frosties.
Naveed did not want to burden anyone with his problems. He suffered from depression for a very long time but did not let anyone know, even though he would always be there for others in their time of need. Naveed passed away on March 30, 2019. He had a talent to mesmerize anyone to add to their happiness. He will always be remembered for his love of traveling and food, but most importantly for being a selfless, incredibly kind, and gentle soul who never wanted anything in return except for their happiness. His meaning in life was to be of service and to make a positive difference in the lives of all he touched.
Written by Naveed’s friend, Jackie Slaby
Naveed’s approach to relationships exemplifies the power of genuine friendship. His thoughtfulness for others, as well as myself, has left long-lasting memories of feeling heard and loved.
Even though we no longer lived in the same city after high school, we stayed in touch regularly. He made time to check in to see how I was doing, creating space for me, especially on days when I felt alone. These moments shared between us continue to sustain my dedication to community development and healing in our hometown Battle Creek, Michigan. His discernment, selflessness, and desire for accountability are, in part, what guides me in my role as a public servant, advocate for justice, and community organizer to this day.
Over the course of our decade-long friendship, my dearest memories with him were the times he’d visit me on my birthday. We would talk about everything imaginable, from tennis stats to local history and traveling to global politics. This time spent together reinforced the importance of human connection and active listening. He both supported my goals and also challenged me to stretch farther and reach for what I thought was just beyond my grasp. Above all, his friendship taught me the invaluable lesson of how the smallest acts of kindness can make the biggest impact in one’s life.
His expressions of joy, playfulness, and gentleness were life-giving, whether it was when playing tennis, planning a birthday celebration, or caring for a sick friend. He cultivated a sense of belonging for those around him. And that deep commitment to friendship is certain to create a ripple effect across all the communities he has touched -- on and off the court.