“When I was a child I was told that the only limits to my ability to make a difference are the limits I set myself. I see so many Muslim women doing the most amazing things and changing lives of those around them. They are the ones who believed in themselves, prioritized things, and still managed to pursue their passion.”
Zoha is 22, a graduate student in the Masters of Public Health Program (McMaster University), and is also concurrently completing a graduate diploma in Water Without Borders at United Nations University: Institute of Water, Environment and Health. What’s most important to Zoha is making a difference with the work she does. She told me, “I am a very dynamic individual and it's challenging for me to stay motivated to do something if I cannot see the difference my work is making. Before I realized this aspect of my personality, I would feel unsatisfied with the work I would do, as if something was missing or I was doing something "wrong". Once I learned more about myself, my approach to things changed. Now, I am more focused on getting involved with initiatives that accommodate this aspect of my personality. I find joy in doing things that have a visible impact.” Zoha immigrated to Canada from Pakistan in 2011 and is proud that she managed to adapt so well to Canadian life. Despite being in a completely different school system and culture, she thrived. She now mentors other first-generation students with similar experiences. When I asked Zoha how she feels she’s perceived she told me, “I am perceived as a person who is fun to hang out with, is involved with the community/campus/scientific research, and has everything (in her life) under control. I am often told that I am motivational and inspire other people to work hard as well, which motivates me even more to aim higher.”
What is your favourite hobby or pastime?
"I rarely get free time to pursue a hobby, but I like to spend time with my friends and family, write, watch TV shows as well as mentor other first-generation students (like myself)"
What makes you laugh so much it hurts?
"Honestly, I can laugh my heart out at the smallest things. My friends and family are very well aware of that, so whenever I spend time with them, each and every moment is filled with laughter and joy."
What is one thing you know for sure?
"All my hard work will pay off at the end in one way or another and that all hardships I have faced or am currently going through are preparing me for something amazing in future!"