Senior Insights: From the streets of Rawalpindi, Pakistan to speaking at the UN, and more


Muhammad Burhan '21, Guest Writer

My parents come from a lower-middle-class family in Pakistan, so life was never easy for us. They both never went to college, so my parents tried their best to get the best possible education for me. I spent most of my teenage years working extremely hard, changing schools in Pakistan on scholarships, eventually entering one of the best private high schools there on a full merit scholarship. Even after getting a top high school, studying abroad was beyond my comprehension because I thought it’s only for the privileged top 1% of Pakistan. I was told many times to not pursue foreign education or a British high school because of my family’s humble background. However, I saw a dream and made sure I worked day and night for it which eventually led me to a life-changing 100% scholarship to study at Dickinson. Now here I am today in my senior year living my most authentic life while working towards climate justice and equity & inclusion. 

From being a social justice trip leader and going to Laos and Cambodia to walking in New York Fashion Week to now working with State and County level climate action planning initiatives, the past 4 years at Dickinson have been life-changing for me and have prepared me to tackle global challenges in local contexts. Majoring in two very technical subjects like Math and Computer Science along with being Pre-med, I made really good use of my liberal arts curriculum and worked on projects that advocated for climate and social justice. I never knew I would be doing things like speaking as a guest speaker at the UN, international conferences, and more. I feel so blessed to have lived this true global liberal arts experience. My life changing journey showed me that access to education has less to do with intelligence and a lot more to do with privilege. Therefore, I aspire for a future where education is accessible for everyone and diversity & inclusion is appreciated. 

I would tell my younger self that always be proud of your roots and keep doing what you are doing and 10 years from now you when you will look back, you will be so proud of your journey, struggles, and achievements. Your roots and struggles are what makes you different. I am happy to have met so many amazing Dickinson students, professors, and alumni, and I am ready for whatever life brings to me next”.