Rhodes Scholar Zujaja Tauqeer Will Address Baccalaureate Commencement
May 27, 2011
Rhodes Scholar Zujaja Tauqeer has garnered yet another honor: As the 2011 undergraduate class representative, the Pakistan-born student will address her fellow graduates at the June 2 Commencement Exercises.
As the third Brooklyn College student to win the Rhodes Scholarship, Tauqeer will be heading to England next fall to enroll in a two-year program in the history of medicine at Oxford University.
"I don't feel like getting this scholarship means I'm better than anyone else," the honors student states modestly, although her mentors and advisers credit her dedication for having obtained the most prestigious international award.
"She was willing to take an argument as far as it needed to go," says Associate Professor of Political Science Corey Robin, who encouraged her to apply for the scholarship because, according to him, it isn't that often one finds a student like Tauqeer.
Because the Coordinated B.A.-M.D. Program, to which she was accepted four years ago, encourages students to take many non-science courses, Tauqeer credits the college for taking her in a different direction — it led her to seek a major in history and a minor in political science.
"If I hadn't come to Brooklyn College, I probably would have majored in biology instead of history," says the aspiring medical doctor, whose parents and eldest sister are also physicians. "I don't think I would have pursued some of the things I've been able to here."
Tauqeer's diverse résumé includes volunteering on the college's emergency medical squad; studying in China for a month; earning fellowships at Mt. Sinai, Kings County/SUNY Downstate; working at the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities on Staten Island, where she researched the causes of autism; and publishing a paper in a professional journal. All this, according to Stephen Gracia and Evelyn Guzman of the Office of Scholarships, helped her application.
"I had done some work in my South Asian history class on fundamentalism in Pakistan, and I didn't want to leave all that behind," she explains, recalling that, as members of the Ahmadiyaa sect of Islam, her family faced discrimination and attacks in their native Pakistan and had to apply for asylum in the United States. Her classes helped her understand her own story as a refugee within the larger context of Pakistani history.
"I've always wanted to work in public health in a developing country. I knew Oxford had a program in the history of medicine, and I realized that maybe I could look at some of the things going on in Pakistan and how they have affected health care," she says, explaining why she decided to heed Robin's advice. "It just all came together."Back to BC News