Academics and Social Involvment Completes Hasnain Zaidi's Pursuit for Balance at Duke University

Related Articles

Not having a lot of choices at home for attending college, Hasnain Zaidi knew coming to the United States to study would afford him an opportunity both academically as well as so socially.  “Well I’m actually pretty international as far as backgrounds go.  My family is originally Pakistani, but I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates over in the Middle East,” he says.

“I spent middle school in Toronto Canada, but for the most part lived the bulk of my seventeen years before college in Abu Dhabi.  I choose to attend college in the U-S, primarily because there weren’t a whole lot of options close to home.  I was looking to study either in the United Kingdom, Canada or the United States just because the quality of higher education there is really top notch and its very hard to match the quality of the liberal arts education both academically, extra curricular wise and socially that you can get in the U-S and that is sort of why I started focusing on colleges in the states.”

So, after a bit of Internet research and personal gut instinct, Hasnain is attending Duke University.  He says, it is only by luck that he ended up there.  “I’m currently at Duke University.  I’m a senior over here and I got lucky is all I can say far as why I chose to come to Duke.  Most international students do not have extensive experience with American colleges and so what I did was I went online and pulled the U-S news top ten rankings, top twenty rankings and requested view books from the schools that seemed interesting and the ones that I had heard of and looked into which ones seemed interesting and when I say looked into I mean I visited the website and looked at pictures.  I read brochures and articles online and that was really the extinct to which I knew about Duke,” he says.

“I never knew anybody that had visited here, hadn’t even actually heard about the basketball team before I got here and so it really was a shot in the dark,” he says.

“I found that I really liked the way the campus projected itself.  I liked the image that they showed of themselves.  Sort of the image that I got of Duke was a place where you could work hard, but also be part of a community and that was important to me was to be in a place where I would be welcomed and a place where I could make a contribution.  So I got that sense from Duke and of course this could have been completely incorrect, but luckily it was spot on exactly what I found on during my time here, but really in the end it was by chance that I wind up at Duke.”

Hasnain is studying Public Policy. He says that wasn't his initial choice, but after giving it some thought, he is able to take some of his other interests and unify them into this one area.  “I chose to major in Public Policy studies and it has been a bit of a journey getting here,” he says. 

“I started off my career as a pre-med student.  I was pre-med for two and a half to three years of my four here and so it was an interesting transition.  I had always looked at doing something non-traditional sciences, I never intended to be a Biology or a Physics major per se, but I wanted to do something that would meld all of my interests and so Public Policy is one of the stronger programs here at Duke it has a huge focus on engagement and really making a difference within my community and that is a message that resonated with me a lot,” he says. 

“It is also one of the more international programs with a very global focus and so that is important to me to be able to take those interests and unify them together.”

For Hasnain being able to study in the United States has been vital to him.  He tells us why.  “I think it has been vital.  I think just from the perspective of receiving a college education has been huge, but the particular brand of college education that you get here its so fundamental to the development of young adults and I am a firm believer in that I could have studied in the United Kingdom, but in the UK what they have is you need to decide your program upon entry, so I would currently be enrolled in a pre-medical program. I would be on my way to being a doctor which would not have been the right choice for me because after having getting to Duke I decided that is not what I want to do with my life,” he says. 

“So to have the flexibility, you know to come into college undecided and say ‘look I’m just going to see where the world takes me has been huge, but then also just from a personal growth stand point.  The kind of things I have leaned both inside the class, but especially outside of class and being able to interact with such a diverse set of intelligence and articulate peers it just help me grow to another level that I don’t think would have been possible.”

After graduation this month, Hasnain already has future plans.  “Currently the plan is to stay in the United States for a little bit. I have a job working for a major consulting company and I would like to gain some experience.  I guess in my perspective a lot of what is going on in this world, is really driven by what is going to the United.  It’s the center of innovation, the center of excellence and so to be able to be in that atmosphere and the work atmosphere here is really exciting,” he says.  “So I am going to do that for a few years and then potentially live somewhere abroad.”



This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs