By Hanna Rahman –
And they are off! Thousands of graduates celebrated the end of their college careers and looked forward to the great things ahead of them. Two local graduates, Usmaan Basharat and Omar Hussain, although they lived through different adventures, will both be pursuing medicine. A third, Iqra Ahmed, aims to become a psychologist.
Serving through medicine
Basharat, 22, of Gilbert will be attending the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix starting in fall 2015. Along with pursuing his degree, Basharat hopes to gain a few life skills, including the discipline to balance rigorous coursework with his social life. Additionally, through the vast amount of exposure to patient relations during year one of medical school, Basharat hopes to enhance his communication, critical thinking and people skills.
While there is a lot to learn in his future, Basharat credits his older brother and a close relative with giving him the past lessons that led him to pursue medicine.
“My brother told me to pick a major with no alternatives so that I wouldn’t change my mind,” he said. He also said that when his family moved to the United States, Ihad, a close relative, who is now a retired ophthalmologist, always spoke highly of the medical field, and encouraged him as well. “Me wanting to become a doctor really became reinforced through her,” said Basharat.
He said his motivation isn’t just for himself, but that he is also continuously motivated to pursue medicine to help serve underrepresented populations. Frequent visits to Pakistan and his volunteer work with underserved refugee families in the valley solidified this mission.
Basharat recounted that seeing kids not have the same opportunities was difficult, and he wants to help close the gap between healthcare delivery and underprivileged populations. “My favorite activity was working with refugee children around the valley. This helped grow my passion for medicine. I did this through a couple different student organizations and there is a lot more work still to be done,” said Basharat.
Basharat was born and raised for eight years in Pakistan. He changed schools nine different times before settling down for high school at Williams Field High School and then attended Arizona State University for four years. Basharat graduated from ASU summa cum laude with a bachelor of science in biological sciences.
While completing his degree, Basharat also worked as a chemistry lab instructor, tutored at ASU and volunteered with refugee families in the valley. He tutored young students and served as a mentor as well. “I am really proud of the work I have done with the refugees in the valley, seeing them succeed makes me really happy,” he said.
He also shadowed many doctors to explore the healthcare field where he was exposed to many different specialties and enjoyed working with the patients. Thinking back on his shadowing experience, Basharat said, “My favorite shadowing experience was with a pediatric cardiologist, mainly because the atmosphere was a lot lighter with little kids around.” Although Basharat is not committed to pursuing any specialty yet, he hopes to gain more insight on dermatology and pediatrics.
Aside from his busy academic schedule, Basharat enjoys playing basketball and reading. He is also very proud of the work he did at a free health clinic in Pakistan, gaining invaluable experience.
Basharat is very hopeful for the future as he plans on starting a family in the valley and working as a medical doctor to serve the community he has grown up with. He also encourages future undergraduates to work hard and not look for shortcuts. “In the end you get out how much you put in,” said Basharat.
Fascinated by the brain
Basharat isn’t the only young Arizonian heading to medical school. Omar Hussain, 20, of Chandler will also be attending University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix in fall 2015, where he hopes to grow as a professional and prepare himself for a career in neurology.
Hussain was exposed to the healthcare field from the very young age of seven when his grandfather had a stroke. Hussain was present for most of his grandfather’s recovery and was able to observe what was going on. Since then, he has been intrigued by the brain and wanted to pursue neurology.
He said that dealing with his grandfather’s condition “really jump-started my interest in the brain, and once I started learning more about it, my thirst to learn about the brain couldn’t be stopped.”
Hussain was born in Dallas, but has lived in Arizona for the majority of his life. He attended the University of Arizona, where he graduated with a bachelor of science in neuroscience and cognitive science, summa cum laude, with honors. A class that really confirmed his passion for the brain was learning and memory taught by Dr. Alan Nighorn, where Hussain explored the extent of human knowledge in the field of neuroscience. Hussain also completed his senior thesis project studying stroke inflammation and the auditory efferent system. He focused on finding a possible avenue for blood brain barrier disruption in humans and mice after stroke.
When looking back, Hussain said, “I have taken all of the classes taught by Dr. Alan Nighorn. He is an amazing teacher of neuroscience, and also really helped me learn how to think critically, specifically helping me how to answer my own questions.”
Aside from his schoolwork, Hussain enjoys cooking, baking, playing video games and working out. He was also heavily involved in the Muslim Students Association, as well as activities at the local mosque.
Other than being accepted into medical school, Hussain said his biggest accomplishment is cooking authentic Hyderabadi biryani. “My parents said it ‘tasted just like home’ and I even got my grandma’s seal of approval,” he said.
Hussain looks forward to working as a neurologist, helping victims of stroke with rehabilitation and doing research to help prevent complications due to neurological diseases. He also hopes to start a family and stay active in the Muslim community.
Hussain said the best piece of advice given to him was to “always find time to relax when things get hectic.” He encourages future students to “not get overwhelmed with school and to always make time for practicing your faith.”
A gift for organization
Iqra Ahmed, 22, graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor of science in psychology. She focused on business psychology as she hopes to work as an industrial and organizational psychologist, consulting with nonprofit organizations and renowned technology companies on how to improve their functionality. Currently, she is working as a knowledge management intern at SkyTouch in Paradise Valley, where she hopes to build professional skills while gaining valuable exposure to technology companies. She has the responsibility to research how to develop and manage a community.
Ahmed was born in Hyderabadi, India, and moved to America when she was two. She has lived for most of her life in Chandler, where she attended Chandler High School before going to ASU. She enjoys event planning, traveling and ATV riding in Showlow.
When Ahmed graduated from high school, she was sure that she wanted to pursue psychology but didn’t know what her concentration should be. However, she decide to work as a business psychologist after leading various ASU organizations. Ahmed was the president of the ASU chapter of Oxfam America, an international relief organization focused on ending world hunger; director of public relations of Maroon and Gold Ambassadors, an organization dedicated to encouraging student involvement on campus, and director of public relations of Sun Devils Are Better Together, an interfaith organization promoting social change. Each organization helped nurture Ahmed’s passion for organizational management, nonprofits and event planning.
“Maroon and Gold Ambassadors basically introduced me to countless opportunities that helped shape my career path. Oxfam allowed me to pursue my dream of being involved in a nonprofit organization. One major highlight [for Oxfam] would be volunteering at the Exchange Fair at the Clinton Global Initiative University led by the Clintons where I got to meet Nobel Prize winner Bunker Roy,” said Ahmed.
Additionally, Ahmed really enjoyed and learned a lot from her business marketing class taught by Paul Mishark. She said, “Professor Mishark, not only did he ensure that we understood the class materials but also made sure to apply it to real-life experiences. He has tons of experience working with large companies around the world and would share his knowledge with all of us.”
Ahmed’s biggest accomplishment has been the planning of nearly 30 different events at ASU. Leaving ASU worries Ahmed as she fears losing the many connections she made with various individuals. However, she is also hopeful to pursue her dreams and accomplish much more than she planned. She hopes to continue her education next fall by studying for a master’s in industrial organizational psychology.
In the near future, Ahmed sees herself working as an industrial psychologist and hopefully running her own nonprofit helping orphans and promoting women’s rights in India. She also hopes to start a family and travel to Mecca, Spain and Africa.
Ahmed tells future students to “not be afraid to dream big” and “know your resources and get involved on campus…it helps you gain applicable experience and valuable skills that can help you develop as a leader.”
A big congratulations to all of the graduates for the year of 2015.