Um, it was a national grant called the Davis Projects for Peace

But I would say that some of my favorite experiences from college, uh, were the opportunities when, uh, when I got to do international work. Uh, in summer of 2010, I received a small grant from college to go to my native Pakistan and voluntarily teach English at an underprivileged, uh, middle school. I loved my experience there so much that I actually, I went back in summer of 2011, um, but this time with a bigger grant.

Until I retire?

And, um, what I did was initiated a journalism program to help students learn the power of words, um, and in creating peaceful and democratic societies.

We had field trips to the national newspaper done. We had news trips to a radio station, um, in India and my students published their first newspaper, um, it also came at a time, um, when the world’s most wanted, uh, terrorist Bin Laden, uh, was found in that same town where I was teaching, Abbottabad.

And so, um, I felt that the impact that I had on in the community that I was working on, um, was, you know, far-reaching in helping, um, my students understand how journalism could be, uh, used as a tool for, uh, for creating peace And so both of these experiences expanded my perspective that professional work doesn’t have to be a 9:00 to 5:00 job in an office.

After completing her undergraduate degree at Bowdoin, Mariya moved to Boston to pursue a corporate career in finance. However, after realizing that her interests lay beyond the walls of her 9-5 desk job, she began exploring the possibility of a career in public service.

So I ended up, uh, you know, moving to Boston as, um, most Bowdoin graduates do. And I thought, you know, “Let me try my hand at something new. Uh, let me give the corporate world a try.” And so I was working for a big insurance industry. I loved it actually. I, you know, I majored in math, so numerically, quantitative stuff was, was fun for me.

So from a skills perspective, it was incredible, but I just knew in my heart that that’s, that’s not what I was meant to be. Um, especially since I had such great formative experiences in college that I knew that I had a calling for, um, you know, something more, something different. Um, and growing up in D.C. As well, you know, that heavily influenced my, uh, career choice in public service.

That it could be in the field, it could be in a different country, it could be while navigating unique experiences and challenges, connecting with people, um, adapting to environments

I remember on my commute to, you know, every single day to Back Bay thinking, you know, “Is this what life for me is gonna look like for the next 40 years. ” And I remember just that thought daunting me and thinking, um, you know, “What w- w- am I happy climbing the ladder?”

Um, and so while I enjoyed the skills I had just missed, I, I had a craving for something more. I had a craving for, um, interacting with people and seeing my work, um, have a more direct impact and a more immediate impact.

So I grew up as a Muslim in Pakistan and of course I brought my, you know, cultural and religious identity to the United States and I spent a majority of my life growing up in United States. So I was eight when my family immigrated, um, to the United States.