High school and college students everywhere have had to negotiate COVID and online classes in order to complete their studies. In the second of a two-part series, we spoke to recent graduates from the Dawoodi Bohra community of Seattle about their experiences, dreams and reflections on the past two years.
Nazneen Poonawala, High School Graduate and Aspiring Engineer
Nazneen Poonawala, graduated in the IB Diploma program with suma cum laude distinction from Skyline High School, & was part of the National Honor Society. Throughout her school career, she has competed in soccer, softball, and track earning athletic varsity letters.
Completing high school in remote learning offered both challenges and rewards. Being on the computer for many hours in a row caused discomfort for my eyes and created posture problems. However, having everything accessible on a computer was both environmentally friendly and easy to keep track of as assignments were digital. Being online allowed me to easily contact my teachers and allowed me to complete homework on my own time table. However, there was no peer to peer interaction, which resulted in a quieter learning environment.
It was an adjustment to wake up earlier for school and also wear school attire. I often felt more drained because at school I would walk around more and also talk to peers and teachers.
I am pursuing a computer engineering degree at the University of Michigan. I aim to close the gender gap in STEM fields by encouraging and helping more women continue to further their education.
Yusuf Shahpurwala, High School Graduate and Ambitious Technology Student
Yusuf Shahpurwala graduated from Skyline High School in Sammamish as an IB diploma candidate and recipient of the summa cum laude distinction. He was also part of the National Honor Society and the Science National Honor Society. Throughout high school Yusuf also earned five varsity letters for his participation in cross country and track.
The lockdown was initially a hard adjustment for me as I missed not having normal social interactions. But it also gave me some extra time to focus on activities I may not have had time for otherwise. It was during lockdown that I taught myself coding and realized that I liked it. This led to me choosing Computer Science as my major at college. Lockdown also gave me time to reflect on what I wanted to do during the rest of my limited high school experience. So, I joined Athletes for Kids – a community service organization where high school athletes spend time with children who have disabilities of some kind and serve as a role model for them. I also did a summer internship at Techno Smart Kids, teaching coding and providing parents useful information on technology studies via the company blog.
Shifting to online school then back to in-person gave me the skills to easily adapt to different situations. It has also made me realize the importance of technology in our lives. Online school could not have been possible during the lockdown, at such short notice, without the easily available and easily usable technology – for both teachers and students. This got me interested in creating technology that improves people’s lives.
I will be attending the University of Washington in the upcoming school year to study Computer Science. I hope to learn the skills there to make products and programs that will help improve living conditions worldwide.
Hussain Miyaziwala, Computer Engineering Post Graduate
Hussain Miyaziwala graduated with highest honors from Georgia Tech with a Masters in Computer and Electrical Engineering with a focus on Computer Systems and Security.
COVID regulations were mostly rolled back over my Master’s and it was great being able to sit in a classroom again and get to know my professors and peers. As a student and a teaching assistant, the difference between online and in-person education is immeasurable. Being a graduate student, it was exciting being in an environment where both my peers and professors were deeply interested in the course material. Everyone was engaged and excited to be there. Most of my graduate courses did not require us to memorize a ton of information; rather, we were asked to think critically and discuss real world problems. I realized through studying for this degree that I really enjoy the impact and intricacy of hardware security, and I am looking forward to pursuing that in my career.
I will be joining Microsoft in the Fall to work on their hardware security team. Alongside that, I am continuing to work on the Neonatal Incubator for Ghana and the educational startup for hard of hearing children, Voca Speech.