New Visions Scholars Share a Love of Chemistry, Dreams of Becoming Doctors
Today, we introduce you to graduating seniors Pamela Capellan and Mahia Rahman.
(At left, Pamela Capellan and science teacher Dave Griffin)
“I'm showing myself that whatever challenge is thrown in front of me, I can do it. I'm very ambitious and determined, so if I want something I'm going to get it.”
A graduating senior at Collegiate Institute for Math and Science in the Bronx, Pamela Capellan’s drive to succeed is evident to all who spend time with her.
Balancing a full course load of AP classes while serving as president of her school’s ASPIRA chapter (a youth development and leadership organization), Pamela is only happy when she’s challenging herself. An interest in chemistry, coupled with an intense desire to give back to her Bronx neighborhood, has led her to consider pursuing a career in medicine.
“One thing that I want to do is open a women's health clinic in my community, because there's not enough medical attention given to women who don’t have insurance. I want women to really take care of themselves. It's something that I'm passionate about.”
She credits her teachers, in particular her AP chemistry instructor, with helping her pursue her dreams.
“I never thought that when I selected CIMS I would be selecting not just a school, but a community. And a lot of teachers here are willing to sacrifice their time to help you. That's very important for me.”
In addition to her rigorous academic schedule, she worked as many as 30 hours a week at her local grocery store during her senior year, to help with family expenses.
“We can pay off some bills, we can use the extra money to do something for ourselves,” she says. “Working, for me, it really gives me an independence that I've never had before.”
Although as she leaves for Cornell, she will be leaving the city she grew up in, she is proud of her Bronx roots.
“I love the Bronx. You meet a lot of people, there are so many funny stories. People have barbeques, they bring out their chairs, open the fire pumps and we just start playing around. When it's the Fourth of July, they close the streets for the fireworks. Even though the Bronx has a reputation, the culture is very vibrant, you can hear it in the music--we play a lot of music--it's really just fun.”
“I want to be successful, to be an asset to the community. I want to be one who contributes to her society.”
Born to Bangladeshi parents who moved to the United States before her birth, Mahia Rahman has grown up straddling two different worlds. She visited Bangladesh for the first time at age 12, a trip that was formative in helping her choose a career path.
“The first time when I went to Bangladesh, I thought it would be modernized like America, but it wasn’t,” she says. “The traditional still remains there. I love my family’s traditions, but when we went to my village, we saw a lot of poverty, a lot of sick children. I wanted to help them to have a better life.”
That trip, coupled with an inspiring chemistry teacher her sophomore year, opened up her desire to become a physician.
“To me, an ideal physician is someone not just looking for money, but someone who is always there for people. I want to give knowledge to my patients, so they can learn something.”
A student in the pre-medical small learning community at HIllcrest, Mahia has taken the most rigorous courses offered at her school (anatomy, AP chemistry, AP biology) and has fulfilled her school’s service requirement by volunteering hundreds of hours at local hospitals. She is only one of a handful of students accepted into Hofstra University’s 8-year medical program.
Having accomplished so much, Mahia now wants to advocate for others to have the same opportunities she has had. As vice president of her school’s chapter of the New York State Science Honor Society, she motivates her peers to pursue science-related careers in medicine and engineering.
She is especially concerned with giving young women in the developing world more opportunities.
“In Bangladesh, I saw young women who did not have education. I want these young women to not be discriminated against. I want them to improve their own lives.”