COD Student's Response to Adversity Inspires Others

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 28, 2014 | Go to article overview

COD Student's Response to Adversity Inspires Others


Byline: Barbara Jo Mitchell College of DuPage

College of DuPage student Ahsan Javaid has faced more than his fair share of adversity and he is using those experiences to inspire others.

A native of Sialkot, Pakistan, Javaid was diagnosed at age 11 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, a fast-growing form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

The diagnosis was followed by a lengthy stay at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Punjab, Pakistan, more than 100 miles from his home.

Javaid spent the next five years at Shaukat Khanum under treatment for the illness, avoided by friends and some family members who believed that cancer is contagious.

"In Pakistan, if you say you have cancer, it destroys your social life," Javaid said.

During his treatment, which included painful spinal injections, he withdrew from school and completed his middle school examination as a private candidate. After being declared cancer free, he returned to school, but because of his classmates' misconceptions about cancer, he spent much of his time seated alone in the classroom.

Javaid was also discouraged by many people who told him that he was wasting his time and his parents' money because he would likely die of cancer soon.

Despite all that, he earned a bachelor's degree in commerce from the Hailey College of Commerce at the University of Punjab. While earning his degree, he spent his free time and vacations at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, this time as a volunteer.

"Through my experiences and having survived cancer, I felt that I was specifically selected by God to inspire and give hope to others," he said. "I needed to encourage the patients to pursue their education and to let them know that they can achieve anything they put their minds to."

After graduating university and ready to enter the workforce, Javaid still faced discrimination and discouragement, this time from prospective employers who were afraid to hire him because he had cancer.

"Those employers didn't see qualifications," he said. "They only saw that you've had cancer."

Eventually, Javaid returned to Shaukat Khanum Hospital where he was hired as a marketing support officer. His skills, ambition and expertise led to a promotion after only six months as a selection coordinator in charge of six major cities.

Javaid is currently attending College of DuPage through the Community College Initiative program, a U.S. Department of State grant program that supports students for one academic year in the United States. Through this program, students from across the globe enroll in academic courses, participate in professional development and engage in community service while they gain perspective on American society, culture and institutions. …

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