During her time at Loyola, Shahtaj Usmani has spent countless hours as a student leader in several groups, including the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the New Life Volunteering Society, a national non-profit organization that she helped establish.
And if that weren’t enough, she also is an active member of the Muslim Student Association and a volunteer for the Chicago Park District, the Global Medical Brigade, and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.
Here, she talks about how her classmates inspire her, why she loves working with children, and what students should do to get the most out of their education.
What’s your favorite Loyola memory?
I’d have to say it’s being in the IC during finals week. The madness is like a plague that hits Loyola at the end of every semester. I remember always running into all sorts of emotions in the IC. There is always the one who panics, the over-achiever, the procrastinator, and then there’s me: a little of everything!
Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.
I was so lucky to have met the people I did during my undergraduate career. I could allude to a specific mentor or a professor who inspired me to be where I am today; however, I think my friends and fellow classmates have given me the most inspiration. Working alongside people who are just as motivated and passionate as you are is definitely encouraging to get through all the hard work and strive toward our ultimate goals.
Tell us about your volunteer/service work and what it means to you.
I take my volunteer experiences as a duty rather than an extra activity. To me, through the act of volunteering, you recognize that you have the ability to put aside your needs and assess those who need and will appreciate your help and time far more than you may imagine. With this mindset, I have volunteered at several places, including hospitals and tutoring centers. I’ve also helped out with food drives and blood drives.
Any advice you would give students about how to get the most out of their education?
Every time I am asked this question, I answer it in the same way: It is important to recognize that education is not limited to the classroom. To maximize your learning experience, you must get involved. This may be through volunteering, through job-hunting, or even through campus organizations. Either way, you must expose yourself to all types of surroundings.
What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
I hope to be a practicing pediatrician working in a hospital. Through various tutoring activities, I realized that I loved working with kids and being someone they can go to for help. I hope to merge this with my genuine interest in medicine and help children worldwide with their health.
Who are your favorite writers?
To be honest, the only writers that I have been able to keep up with nowadays are those who have written my textbooks. I recently heard about the death of my all time favorite childhood author, Barbara Parks, who wrote the Junie B. Jones series. She definitely deserves to be recognized and remembered for those vivid and creative books.
Which living person do you most admire?
Without the intent of my answer seeming completely generic, I most deeply admire my mother. Through her own life as an example, she has taught me to fight for what I want in life while still staying true to my values. My mother and my father have raised me in a way that keeps me motivated, dedicated, and passionate about my life aspirations.