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Graduating Student Spotlight: Mohib Hafeez

Mohib Hafeez
Donaghey Scholar Mohib Hafeez will graduate May 14 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Hafeez helped co-found the UA Little Rock Humanitarian Society with a group of friends who hung out on the third floor of the Ottenheimer Library. Photo by Ben Krain.

Donaghey Scholar Mohib Hafeez will graduate on May 14 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. He will attend UAMS in the fall to study medicine.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m originally from Karachi, Pakistan. Our family moved to the United States in 2008. My dad wanted to move to the U.S. to give our family better educational opportunities and a more promising future. Karachi is a densely populated, vibrant city. The food and spices are amazing. Everyone knew each other in the village where I grew up. The kids would go out and play from 5 p.m. until dark. When we first moved to the U.S., I felt really alienated. I only knew how to say “hello” and “yes.” My parents were so worried about me, but I had caring teachers who helped me out.

Why did you choose UA Little Rock?

I have three older brothers. I went to a different elementary school every year since we moved so much. My brothers wanted a college experience near their friends and far away from our family. But it was hard for my parents to cope without my siblings. So, when it was my turn, I decided to stay in Little Rock. I also wanted to go to medical school. Strategically, UA Little Rock was a good choice since UAMS is nearby.

You helped co-found the UA Little Rock Humanitarian Society. What is their mission?

This was founded by a group of friends in the Ottenheimer Library. We were all international students, and we’d talk about what was happening around the world. We realized that awareness about some events was not in the university ecosystem. So we created this group and held bi-monthly meetings and presented in classes. For instance, during the Syrian humanitarian crisis, we sent heartfelt letters to refugee children. During the Black Lives Matter movement at our state capitol, we made signs and provided our full support.

Tell us about your volunteer experience at the Harmony Health Clinic.

This clinic serves the health and wellness needs of the uninsured and underserved communities. I volunteered there to test my interest in medicine. I started as a front desk receptionist the summer before college and made some great connections. This experience made me feel I was part of something bigger than myself.

Following a speedy promotion to clinic coordinator, I was responsible for doctors, nurses, translators, and other staff. One time, I overslept, and everyone was waiting at the door for me at 5 a.m. It was a humbling experience, and taught me a huge lesson about responsibility. Over the years, I got to know some of the patients. I remember an elderly woman who had to be escorted to the clinic by her son. After a few months of therapy, she was able to come in by herself. We were able to help her get better!

What were some of your favorite courses?

Science and Society II was a course in the Donaghey Scholars program. We read about current events that covered a wide range of topics. I learned about the I-30 Crossing project in Little Rock and discovered I need to be more aware of my surroundings.

Who were some of your mentors?

When I interviewed for the Donaghey Scholars program, I was still undecided about UA Little Rock and considering other options. During the interview, Dr. Simon Hawkins and Dr. Jessica Scott challenged me and taught me not to confine my thinking. And Dr. Hawkins spoke to me in Arabic!

What is your favorite memory of UA Little Rock?

My friends and I would hang out on the third floor of the Ottenheimer Library. This group consisted of international students and Americans just chilling (working on class work, studying together, and even doing fun events such as bowling nights together.) Fortunately, we had a librarian friend in the group so we wouldn’t get in too much trouble for getting a little loud.