Aziz Ghafoor has big dreams. And he isn’t waiting for someone to pluck him from obscurity; he’s got a roadmap and a full schedule to get him there.
With all the hurdles he’s faced in his young life, many may have expected him to aim for modest goals. Ghafoor has shot past those expectations.
“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid,” he says, “I’m open to all aspects of medicine and I haven’t narrowed my focus yet, but right now I’m thinking of being a family doctor.”
The full-time second-year Science student at the University of the Fraser Valley hasn’t had it easy, but he’s already more focused on paying it forward than paying himself.
Ghafoor got his first or many full-time jobs in Grade 10. Balancing a full courseload with 40 hours a week of door-to-door marketing wasn’t ideal, but Ghafoor’s academics and extracurriculars stayed strong. He earned many awards including the prestigious UFV President’s Entrance Scholarship.
“It’s only given out to four students every year, and it covers nearly all of your tuition,” explains Ghafoor.
Earning scholarships means he no longer needs to work full-time, but that doesn’t mean he’s not busy.
“Time managing is what I do every single day.”
He’s a mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, a student ambassador for new UFV students, and current editor of the STEM Fellowship Journal.
“It’s a peer-reviewed journal that publishes research from students across Canada. I read submissions, edit manuscripts, and validate the research.”
But that’s not all.
Ghafoor has won multiple research awards from BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute including the BCCHR Summer Research Studentship, which is awarded to only 17 undergraduate and medical students each summer. He’s conducted research in the fields of cardiology, bio-medical science, orthopaedics, obstetrics and gynecology.
“It’s quite competitive, but it’s a privilege to be able to contribute to a wider body of knowledge and help advance medicine,” he says.
Now he’s presented his research at various conferences including the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Gynecologic Excellence in Ottawa, and has an upcoming presentation at the National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard University.
So what does he say when people worry that a small school like UFV won’t give him the same oppotunities as a big university?
“I proved them wrong.”
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Across the Fraser Valley, you will find UFV students becoming the tradespeople, nurses, business leaders and social service providers our community relies upon. To donate, please visit giving.ufv.ca/makeadifference.