After I completed my internship and research in Saudi Arabia, I faced a dilemma – should I stay with my family or pursue our dream of me graduating from premed and join the medical school but in the cost of leaving them. That was one of the most heartbreaking and confusing moment for me. It was a difficult time for all of us. I knew my family needed my physical presence during those times at the same time they wanted me to go back to the Philippines. I thought a lot about it. I am willing to sacrifice everything, even this medical dream, just to keep my family safe and well taken cared of. But some days I thought that seeing me achieve my dreams will make them feel a lot better — proud, fulfilled and happy. I chose the latter. I chose dreams over being with my family for my family. Even I was not ready to leave, I had to leave because my final trimester was about to start. So I came back here in Manila with just my dreams and hope that I’d graduate and join med school this year.

I knew I’d have a hard time enrolling my remaining minor subjects in college because most of those are not offered. I’m an irregular student, transferree, and I did my internship abroad which was why I had some backlog subjects. I managed to enroll all the subjects by request, which was a long process.

Last July 8 was another milestone in my life, I’m officially a graduate of BS Nutrition and Dietetics. Three years delayed, but worth it. My parents were used to see me graduate with honors, or at least an award every academic year. But since I stepped in college, I wasn’t able to show them any again. My first year in college already disqualified me from having Latin honors in college. How would I qualify with bad records – failed grades, transferred to different universities and shifted to different courses? My concern was just to graduate, just to survive. But in time, I realized that things change, although it seems that I wasn’t having any progress, I actually was. Looking back, there’s so much I’ve gained from the rocky extraordinary college journey I had — that are worth every year I missed graduating. Each failure I encountered in my life lit the fire in me to move forward and to leap higher.

That day, I graduated without Latin honors nor any special award. My family and friends asked me if I got any cause they’re expecting me to have one. But I smiled at them and said I didn’t have any.

I may have not graduated with any Latin honor nor any special award but I won more than that — excellence, confidence, wisdom, experience, faith and a better version of myself. I don’t feel any self-pity or such because I know deep in myself that I gained more than that . Getting in this point of my life is worth every year that I missed graduating, every confusion I caught myself into, every dilemma, every hardship, every failure, every mistake.

Others prayed hard for this day because it would end their school life and it would open doors to employment and career growth. It was a different battle for me. I fought hard for this day despite how rough my college journey had been because it would be my key to the medical school.

During these days, while everyone was busy for graduation and board exam, I was actually busy preparing for my med school application.
Now I am in med school, and I am being bombarded with loads of medical school stuff. In fact, I am writing this while having a break from studying for my exams in the following days. The toxicity is getting mental so I want to look at the positive side of things.

I looked back at my graduation photos to remind myself how God prepared me with life challenges and blessed me with His beautiful plans for me. It’s to remind me how difficult the journey was but, in God’s Will and Guidance, I made it. He brought me here for a reason. Now it is another difficult journey and I know, in God’s Will and Guidance, I’ll survive it.

Even it’s hard because I am not used to it, I am going to keep fighting for this. Not giving up. Not quitting.

Najmah is a Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Roots in Marawi. Born and raised in Jeddah. Studying in Manila. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. Check more of her works on Hijabi Mag

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