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Maneeza K., 18 – FUNDED

“The Paliwal Club of 100 provides me with a platform to showcase my passions for social justice, community service, and public health equity,” says Maneeza K. This Paliwal Club of 100 STEAM Scholar has incredible goals ahead, and is launching into her college career as a freshman at Johns Hopkins University, where she plans to double-major in Molecular/Cellular Biology and Public Health.

What is your professional dream?

My identity, as a Muslim woman of color, has shaped my life values of social justice and community service, which is why I have always advocated for and served the underprivileged in our communities. Therefore, my dream is to become an emergency physician for Doctors without Borders and serve impoverished communities affected by war, natural disasters, epidemics, and more — and especially nurture young children across the globe.

What does being in the Paliwal Club of 100 mean to you? 

It is an immense honor and a source of pride for me. It means being a representation and role model for passionate young Muslim women and women of color who are facing societal and/or financial barriers in the STEAM field and inspiring them to pursue their goals in life through the values of resilience and gratitude.

I am also excited about the opportunities that I can access through the Paliwal Club of 100, such as networking and collaborations with my fellow winners — and I am excited about how the scholarship will help me grow in my academic and professional journey!

Women are underrepresented in the S.T.E.A.M. (science, tech, arts or math) fields and music industry. How can we change this? 

Tackling this issue requires a comprehensive and sustainable long-term approach to achieve true gender equity for all.

Firstly, it is important to recognize the power of community by establishing initiatives that empower and unite women in STEAM and music such as grassroots initiatives, internships, educational programs, and scholarships.

Secondly, we must recognize the importance of the intersection between personal and professional growth, and therefore support inclusive spaces in workplaces and educational institutions to uplift female leaders and role models.

To support and foster diverse and equitable spaces, it is essential to bring every stakeholder to the table because, through multi-stakeholder and interregional collaboration, we can create a supportive network that works towards equitable opportunities irrespective of gender in the STEAM and music fields.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

As a first-generation Muslim girl, I have faced significant financial barriers and immense stereotypes from society while pursuing my education and pre-professional opportunities. However, I have always viewed my financial hardships as a stepping stone because I have learned to work hard and be appreciative of the opportunities I receive.

The values of resilience and persistence in the face of challenges are important to me because I always hold this Quran verse close to my heart: “Indeed, with hardship comes ease.” – Quran 94:5.

Therefore, despite all the challenges I still face in my academic and professional journey, I am appreciative of my family, community, friends, and opportunities like these that support me through my hardships!

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

My passion for global health has thrived because of the multicultural and international experiences I’ve had over the years through study abroad, conferences, cultural exchanges, and more, and I am very excited to pursue more opportunities! The grant will help me fund a public health research fellowship during Summer 2024 — either the Hopkins Summer Public Health Studies in Cape Town, South Africa, or the ETH Experiential Fellowship in Uganda.

I am excited to continue championing global health justice, specifically through advocating for equitable health education for young girls and women in underrepresented communities. Pursuing a public health research fellowship in Africa will allow me to gain essential information on fields such as health management, health policy development, interpersonal skills, and many more, which will help me prepare for my goal to work for Doctors without Borders as an emergency physician.