A recent graduate of Northern High School, Esha Ahmed is a Muslim, Pakistani-Italian-American, immigrant, philomath with a love for neuroscience and cultural promotion, a Spanish music and Korean drama enthusiast, community service leader, and social advocate.
On Your Passion
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PASSION FOR ACADEMICS AND SOCIAL INCLUSIVITY:
School has always been my safe space. Growing up abroad, I struggled to fit in due to language barriers and cultural differences. In school, I had no barriers. I enjoyed observing the world around me and making sense of matters. I spent hours reading and fell in love with the act of learning every day. Even when I moved to the U.S., my teachers recognized my devotion to academics, and I was soon placed in honor classes. Now, I keep fueling my passion and nurturing my curiosity. I have excelled during my high school years with a GPA of 4.0+ and a ranking in the top 10. This is only the beginning of my academic career, though. I look forward to a lifetime of learning as I pursue medicine. Aside from academics, I have been a vocal advocate for social inclusivity. As a part of various minority groups, I have come to realize the social disparities present. Thus, I made sure to become a point of contact for many. From giving orientations to new students, mentoring freshmen with their transition, to bringing attention to lack of cultural understanding to staff members, I have enjoyed being the voice for many. At some point, I was the one who didn’t have the courage to speak up, and I always strive to be the advocate for the ones who need it.
On Your Motivation
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME A STUDENT LEADER?
My leadership story began accidentally. I have always been a very active student in the classroom and enjoyed taking charge to lead projects. Little did I know that this quality would lead me to serve in numerous positions such as Student Government Association President, Capital District Key Club Editor, Future Doctors of America Vice President, and more. But it extends beyond a formal title – it is a philosophy I have adopted. I embraced servant leadership, and my goal has always been to empower the people around me, seeking out for the benefit of all. May that be community needs or student concerns, I have geared my leadership around the people next to me, and continuously adjusted to fit their needs.
I HOPE THE NEXT GENERATION DOES NOT SHY AWAY FROM EMOTIONS AND BEING VULNERABLE. WE EACH FACE HARDSHIPS, AND THERE IS NOTHING STRONGER THAN ACKNOWLEDGING IT.
On Being Honored
THE MARYLAND COMMISSION FOR WOMEN RECENTLY HONORED YOU AT THE MARYLAND YOUNG WOMEN LEADERS AWARDS – WHAT HAS THIS EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE?
Absolutely crazy and rewarding! I remember when Mrs. Oldham, my counselor, first approached me about it. Apparently, the staff was asked for recommendations, and I was unanimously nominated to represent Northern High! It was truly an honor for me to be thought of so highly by faculty and had no idea that it would extend beyond that. To be honored with the 2021 Maryland Young Women Leader award was surreal. I kept thinking back to the little 12-year-old that had just immigrated, and who would have never believed the fact that she would come to be recognized throughout the state. The whole community was overjoyed with the news, and it just felt like a fever-dream.
On Lessons Learned
ADVICE TO OTHER YOUNG, FIRST-GENERATION IMMIGRANT WOMEN FINDING THEIR WAY IN AMERICA:
Always remember you are braver than you credit yourself for. One fun fact about me is that I am a big crier. I get emotional easily and before I know it, salty tears are traveling down my cheeks. But coming to a country with no support and being part of minority groups can be a true challenge. It is easy to feel vulnerable and weak; to get lost in the process of navigating ourselves, our lives, and our community, or to have off days when everything seems to disfavor us. You will get through it because you are so much braver than you think. Find a good support system and stay focused and motivated on your goals. Celebrate each accomplishment, even the smallest one. Take risks and go out of your comfort zone. Before you know it, you will look back and realize you made it. Your authentic, imperfect self can accomplish anything you want, so be your biggest cheerleader!
On What’s Next
WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION AND WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
My wish for the future generation is to embrace vulnerability and compassion. It is so easy to get caught up in our own worlds and ambitions, but they mean nothing if we aren’t all striving to better our community and help those around us. There is also a need for a cultural reset. I hope the next generation does not shy away from emotions and being vulnerable. We each face hardships, and there is nothing stronger than acknowledging it. As for me, I hope to live each day with these values in mind as I pursue pre-med at Harvard University in the fall. Here is to more dreams!