Stories From The Arch

The Planned Happenstance Project: Asma Maqsood

1. Have you ever experienced a time when you felt there was a barrier in your way? How did you manage it?

When I was in my first year, I took a mandatory cell biology class. Although I had been a good science student during high school and truly enjoyed the subject, the class presented me with a new challenge. While the majority of my classmates seemed to have prior knowledge and a good understanding of the concepts covered in class from high school, I was encountering the new terminology and ideas for the first time. Because the course was fast paced and application based, my lack of prior knowledge was a barrier to my understanding and ultimately my success in the course. I learned to manage this by staying motivated. I knew I wanted to be successful in my course and I believed in my ability to improve. I used my motivation to work hard and do extra readings and research outside of class to cover the gap of knowledge that I felt and build a foundation for me to expand my learning and performance. I also shared my learning experience with my classmates and friends who also contributed to improving my understanding and helping me overcome the learning barrier to do my best in the course.

2. What are some of the changes or risks you have taken that you are glad you took? Why?

This year I experienced a big change when deciding to move off-campus into a student home. As an individual who had never really spent a long time away from home, this was a difficult decision to make. I can confidently say that I am glad I took it. Although I missed my family and home in the city I came from, I was able to meet wonderful new people who would be my housemates for the rest of the school year. I also was able to contribute more time to my social well-being and take part in extracurricular activities, like volunteering around campus. Meeting new people and trying new experiences really helped me grow as a person and learn more about myself. In the short time that I have been living on my own, I have learned more about my needs and habits and identified areas that I still need improvement, including self-regulation. (Also, cooking classes wouldn’t hurt either!)

3. What do you find most exciting when you think of your future?

Although being a doctor has always been a dream of mine, my aspiration is to help people in the most meaningful way I can. The lack of good health is a reality that affects many people in the world, prevents them from reaching their full potential and consequently from contributing to society. I have always loved interacting with people, learning their stories, and doing something to make them happy. I am excited to reach a position where I have the right education and skills to do something more for others and make a positive impact in their daily lives.


Asma is a third year student, currently studying Health Sciences.

Learn more about The Planned Happenstance Project here.

Photo Credit: Grant Holt. Interviewed by: Fatima Kijera.

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