When Fadi Saleh graduates this spring, he’ll have his pick of job opportunities from media groups in New York and California. But Saleh hasn’t decided exactly what he wants to do with his next step yet, and that’s okay.
Saleh became well known around campus and on social media three years ago when he launched his Baracksdubs YouTube channel. The channel features mash-up videos of President Obama “singing” along to popular songs, using clips from many of his speeches.
“I had been watching YouTube videos and I thought ‘I want to make the president sing,’” Saleh says.
Today, Baracksdubs has 735,218 YouTube subscribers, and its twenty-eight videos have had more than 156 million views.
Companies began reaching out to Saleh to make commissioned videos, including MTV, who asked him to create a video to the tune of “Party in the USA” leading up to the 2012 presidential election, encouraging young people to register to vote.
Building on that experience and others, Saleh has seen the potential impact social media can have on people.
“My favorite opportunity so far has been a video I produced encouraging people in California to sign up for health care coverage,” says Saleh. “I enjoyed making the video, but I also realized I had the chance to influence the health of people. And that allowed me to see the potential social impact.”
Saleh, part of the Haslam Scholars and College Scholars programs, designed his own major of social entrepreneurship—building businesses for a social cause. But his real passion is finding a way to use his social and entrepreneurial spirit to help people.
I see social media as a tool through which people can achieve an impact. It’s a part, and not the whole,” he says. “But I want to solve problems to help people and I think social media allows us new ways to solve those problems.”
Whether it’s leveraging viral videos to remind someone of the importance of health insurance or using social networking to make gains in the delivery of education, Saleh believes social media provides a unique opportunity to combine customer service with problem solving.
“I call it design thinking. You’re using empathy while talking with your customer to solve the issue at hand.”
Take a look at the Baracksdubs videos at youtube.com/baracksdubs.
Photo by Caroline Knight