NewsPositively Central Texas


'I am free' first-generation student pushing past her cultural norms to follow her dreams

Posted at 8:48 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 13:50:45-04

While we are seeing a shift away from those stereotypical gender roles here in the United States, in other countries a woman's place is still in the home.

One Central Texas woman is breaking the stereotypes within her culture and spreading her wings.

“It definitely has a meaning,” said Maeesha Maliha, a student at Texas A&M University - Central Texas.

It may seem small and insignificant but the gold pendant with diamond accents, reflects the woman that is Maeesha Maliha. Her own life experience mirroring that of a butterfly.

“It doesn't start with this beautiful butterfly at first, [everyone] has to go through the entire process," said Maliha. "In the Southeast Asian culture, even the Middle East, women aren't given as much freedom. Where I'm from, you know, history-wise there it's always been a men dominant society."

Maliha said she came the U.S. at 11 years old from Bangladesh, with a burning passion for science and math.

“That's something that I really was intrigued to learn more about here in the US," said Maliha.

Fast forward to now, Maliha is a student at Texas A&M with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry; with the hopes of becoming a cardiologist.

“Sometimes you just have to break those generational curses and just move on and just let them know you know; I'm going to be the change, I have to be the change,” Maliha said.

“She is incredibly bright and enthusiastic. She has overcome a lot in her life to get this far. She has nothing but ambition,” said Jessica Doner, Coordinator for Career and Professional Development A&M Central Texas.

Maliha's newest goal will take her 18 hours away to Orlando for the Disney College Program.

"For her, I think finding opportunities not only just to set herself apart in a competitive field but continue to build relationships and network [will ensure] she's going to make that impact on a lot of people," said Doner.

Working with the Disney College Program is an opportunity she hopes will set her apart from the crowd when the time comes to apply for medical school.

“There isn't many of, you know, my gender, my color of people especially in the medical field. I want to be a representation for those females," Maliha said. “I actually am going to be the first person to ever do this and leave my family for such a long period of time, and be living on my own.”

She keeps that butterfly necklace close, it’s a constant reminder of the woman she will be.

“I am free. And I hope that one day, I can make even many more females and girls believe that there is a way out and there is a way to become who they want to be," said Maliha. "It’s not the societal pressure, not the being in the kitchen, and not the having a husband - it's not all that. It's within you."