Friday, December 8, 2023

Meet a Roadrunner: Aima Iqbal is a stargazer from Pakistan

Meet a Roadrunner: Aima Iqbal is a stargazer from Pakistan

Iqbal came to UTSA from Pakistan to study environmental engineering.

(Oct. 15, 2018) -- Aima Iqbal is a visiting junior from Kasur, Pakistan, studying environmental engineering. She comes from a country where according to UNICEF, only one in three females attends a secondary school.

Iqbal shattered those odds. Due to her determination, the U.S. State Department sponsored her to be part of the student exchange program known as UGRAD IREX; an initiative operating on very few campuses across the nation that is coordinated at UTSA by the Office of International Programs. This junior is only one of 230 students admitted to the U.S. from over 13,000 applicants, an admission rate much more difficult to overcome than Harvard. The expectation is that Iqbal will learn as much as she can here at UTSA and return to her native homeland to become a future leader with social impact in Pakistan.

This is your first time studying anywhere outside of Pakistan. How has living in the U.S. changed your perception of the world? Your perception of yourself?

I was a little nervous in the beginning but seeing so much diversity in the UTSA Orientation hall amazed me. I have met many wonderful people here. America has taught me that there is nothing wrong with striving to be the best you can. No profession is superior to another. Just do what you love to do. 

What turning point or event in your life made you decide to choose your current educational path?

The energy crisis in my home country persuaded me to choose environmental engineering with a focus in sustainable development. Pakistan is currently facing huge economic losses due electricity shortages. I want to promote solar and wind power generation because it’s cheaper and cleaner. I want to pay back to my country by helping to produce clean energy surplus.

How has UTSA helped you achieve your academic dreams?

The JPL has made it a lot easier for me to find research. The writing center is matchless. It makes paper writing so much fun and a lot easier. Not only these, the organizations like SGA and VOICES have helped me better understand myself and also provided me opportunities to give back to my host community. The Roost has helped me make new and hopefully life-long friends.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to get to this point in your academic career?

The stereotype in my home community that engineering is not a suitable field for girls. I am a supporter of feminism. My primary responsibility is to guide the youth of my country to let their talent sparkle. I just urge them to be the best version of themselves.

Do you have a motto, a guiding proverb that helps you while you are away from home?

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars” – Les Brown. This quote keeps me motivated all the time.

Have you volunteered in service programs? If so, can you tell us about how you impact the community around you? How do you think you make a difference?

I have volunteered for St. Vinny’s Bistro here in San Antonio. It has taught me the value of serving people beyond borders and religions and that humanity is above everything.

What would you tell students about the importance to study abroad?

Studying abroad broadens your horizon. It not only helps you in your personal development but also allows you to meet new people, experience new culture and see the world. In short, it will change your life. You will go back as a new and groomed person.

What is the best piece of advice you have heard or received?

“You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four Balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.”

Tell us something that people would be surprised to know about you?

I am a stargazer. I can stare at a starry sky for hours. 

Milady Nazir

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