Joseph Nasrallah ’22 considers himself to be pretty behind-the-scenes at Swarthmore, keeping mostly to himself and living in a one-bedroom apartment in the Ville. In reality, Nasrallah is just humble — he can be seen all over campus greeting friends and giving high-fives to anyone who crosses his path. He has more interests than he can count, and even with classes and his involvement in the PSRF program, he manages to pursue an impressive amount of them.
Nasrallah is a senior majoring in economics and computer science. Though he knew little about economics prior to coming to Swarthmore, he spent his entire life around computers and knew they were what he wanted to study in college.
In an interview with The Phoenix, he said, “My dad owned a computer repair store when we lived in Lebanon, and he opened one when we moved to Dearborn. I’ve been around computers my whole life, and I’ve always been so fascinated by seeing all the different ways that people can build and program the machines to do work.”
Nasrallah lived in Lebanon until he was six years old, when his family moved to Dearborn, MI. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in early 2020, which he described as “a massive relief because now I don’t have to awkwardly tell the SwatVotes people that I’m not registered whenever they table at Sharples.”
“There was a lot we had to leave behind in Beirut, and it was pretty hard moving to an entirely new country where I didn’t even speak the language at all,” he said. “Thankfully I picked up English pretty fast, and there was a big Lebanese community to support us when we got there.”
Nasrallah is grateful for the experience he gained working at his father’s computer repair store, which taught him skills and lessons he will carry for life.
“There are a lot of skills that I learned helping out around the store growing up, like how to fix my own electronics and how to find hardware that’s going to last a long time,” he said. “What people don’t really tell you about working at a computer repair store is that you end up seeing a lot of porn on people’s computers. Like, actually an insane amount of porn. Nothing fazes me anymore.”
Nevertheless, he plans to go into investment banking after college and see where the career path takes him.
“I don’t want my entire life to be about computers, you know? I’m really grateful to have a job lined up at J.P. Morgan for after graduation, even though I get the stink-eye from pretty much everyone I tell around here. It’s important to me to be able to send money home to my family in Lebanon, and after ten years I’ll have saved enough to be able to do whatever I want.”
“Plus,” he added, “I’ve actually never been to New York City. I’ve always wanted to go to the Times Square Olive Garden. I used to love the breadsticks.”
Outside of the classroom, Nasrallah is involved with Outsiders and SBC. He said that when he’s not in class or doing homework in Underhill, he can almost always be found wading in the Crum Creek or exploring the trails in the woods.
“I had never been camping before coming to Swarthmore, can you believe that?” he said with a laugh. “I had never even been on a hike in the woods. I went on a hiking trip in Delaware freshman year on a whim, and though the hike totally kicked my ass, it helped me discover my passion for the outdoors. I’ll never forget that trip.”
He joined SBC as a junior to gain more hands-on experience handling finances and to learn more about how the college spends money.
“I applied to be on SBC because I had interacted with them before to secure funding for Outsiders trips, but I didn’t actually know what they did behind the scenes or how the Student Activities Fund even works,” he said. “I also wanted to spend thousands of dollars on a concert for myself, just like [REDACTED]. Ha ha. Please don’t actually print that in the paper.”
Nasrallah said that participating in the Pterodactyl Hunt, taking a dance class, and going on more frequent trips into Philly are experiences that he wishes he’d had at Swarthmore.
“I never participated in the Pterodactyl Hunt because I was always busy for some reason or another. But people consider it such an important Swarthmore tradition, and I’m disappointed that I missed out on it all four years.”
When asked if he had any advice for current underclassmen, Nasrallah said that it’s important to take to heart that things aren’t always what they seem, as well as to count one’s blessings.
“You know the free zone at Sharples?” he said. “I always thought it would be so cold in there, for some reason. But during COVID I was diagnosed with celiac disease and had to start getting my food from there, and it turns out that it’s hot in there. Like, really hot. I don’t know if that really counts as advice, but just something to keep in mind.”