Akeel Rashid

Choosing passion over pressure  

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This young scientist from Tangmarg rejected herd mentality and choose the path of her own liking

It is a known but not discussed fact that the majority of the students after passing Senior Secondary (class 11th & 12th) level examination choose courses against their wish owing to the parental and peer pressure.

The students, 15 to 18 years of age, who are on a journey to become young adults are made to believe that it is better to take up a medical or engineering course rather than an undergraduate courses in Science, Arts and Humanities. On the one hand, the professional courses, medical and engineering, are so tied up with the notions like “smartness” and “success” that students feel tempted to choose these courses. But on the other hand, the students pursuing undergraduate courses are considered to be “less smart and successful” in their academic careers as a result they find themselves out of the competition. They don’t know what kind of position they are going to assume in society. They just know that they are going to enter the society at the bottom and the feeling stifles their enthusiasm to explore the opportunities of their college/university degrees. This is the reason why the graduates and postgraduates in a place like Kashmir look forward to just government jobs. How many times have you heard a college student say – I have done “simple graduation” or I am doing “simple graduation” – In other words, we are “less smart and successful”.  Therefore, students tend to think, the only way to preserve the notions of “smartness and success” is to emulate the students taking up medical and engineering courses.

This gives rise to herd mentality.

And this “herd mentality” is thriving in our part of the world; however, many students have shaped their own careers by defying the mentality and reached the heights of success – not without the support of their parents, of course.

Dr. Sameena Wani

Dr. Sameena Wani, daughter of late Gulzar Ahmad Wani, is a case in point. Hailing from Wussan Bangil in Tangmarg, Dr. Wani is working as a scientist at the world-renowned David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), California, the United States of America.

Recalling the days when she had to choose a course after passing her Senior Secondary level examination, Dr. Sameena Wani says that she appeared for Jammu & Kashmir Common Entrance Test (JKCET) but didn’t qualify the test.

“My father wanted me to give it another try but I was not interested and choose to pursue an undergrad course from Government College for Women, M.A. Road, Srinagar. After completing my Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree, I did my Masters from the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Kashmir University.”

Subsequently, Dr. Wani completed her Ph.D. at the Department of Experimental Medicine & Biotechnology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh in August 2018. While pursuing her Ph.D., she authored 5 international publications.

Dr Wani has discovered the role of urinary exosomal microRNA, miR-2909, as a potential biomarker for the early detection and diagnosis of Prostate Cancer. She is currently exploring the cellular and molecular mechanisms in autoimmunity and intestinal inflammation affecting the pathophysiology of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).

“During my PhD, I was selected for an eight-month practical course at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. The stint at AIIMS proved to be a stepping stone for me to advance my career in Biotechnology. It literally gave me wings and taught me how to land to my dream job,” says Dr. Wani.

Dr. Wani has done her schooling at Iqbal Memorial Institute (IMI) (Girls), Srinagar. “I did not just receive my education from IMI but the school helped me enhance my personality and professional development.”

Dr. Wani says that she was very close to her father and he is the reason for who she is today and why she is able to do what she is doing today. “My father stood by my side at that time when I was not sure about my career choices.”

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