Maryam Monsef

Maryam MonsefPeterborough, Ontario
Biology and Psychology

“Neitzche said, “he who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ I leave Trent with a very strong ‘why’, and armed with the knowledge that when I put my mind to it, I can matter, says Maryam Monsef, a recent Biology and Psychology graduate.

Today, Maryam and her family call Peterborough, Ontario home, but originally the Monsefs come from Herat, Afghanistan and Mashad, Iran. “My decision to stay at Trent was based on my need to make my Canadian home feel more like ‘home’,” Maryam says. “Trent was really an unexpected bonus. The mentors and relationships that I leave here with will positively shape me for the rest of my life.”

She adds that the privilege to pursue a post-secondary education isn’t something that many women from her home country benefit from. The opportunity to further her education has given Maryam an incredible sense of self; “I leave her knowing who I am, what I value and what I am not,” she says proudly.

“My life’s challenge is to provide others with the same incredible opportunities I have been afforded so far,” she adds, mentioning her dream of one day returning to Afghanistan, with the goal of working towards reforming the education system.

“Knowledge is power,” she says, “and empowering people to take responsibility for their own destinies requires a stable schooling system that recognizes the needs and expectations of a society.” She would also like to write a book, one day, something that she hopes will “leave a lasting impact.”

Self-described as opinionated, thirsty for new knowledge and experience and intolerant of injustice, Maryam has spent her time at Trent involved in many political student groups, including the Ontario Public Research Interest Group (OPIRG), the Trent Muslim Students’ Association, the World University Service of Canada’s Afghanistan Challenge, and “everything else in between in order to better understand myself and the world around me.”

Maryam says the nurturing conditions of Trent and, in particular, her academic program allowed her to experiment and discover that she has the power to make a difference. She refers to Trent’s faculty as brilliant, and believes they set the standards for quality teaching and learning across the nation. “Every day I am in the presence of leaders in academia who know me on a first name basis and go out of their way to help me find my place in life,” she says.

Now equipped with an undergraduate degree and a strong sense of self, Maryam is ready for whatever life hands her next. “I’ve determined what I’m good at,” she says “and what deeds provide me with the greatest sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. I close this chapter knowing there is a place for me in this world, and am prepared to take the road less traveled to meet my responsibilities in life.”