Even in her formative educational years, Faiza Aziz knew she wanted to study the biological sciences. She brought her fascination with geography, agriculture, botany, and public health all the way from rural Kenya to chilly Minnesota when she relocated in 1996.
Aziz pursued a BS in Health and Wellness with a concentration in Public Health and Biology, and is now earning her Master of Biological Sciences (MBS), both through the College of Continuing & Professional Studies.
“My part in the global scheme of things is to empower one patient at a time to be their own advocate of health, while providing them with scientific knowledge and support.”
“I have always aimed to maximize my academic aspirations and reach for higher goals,” she says.
Making an Impact
Now as a multilingual interpreter at Hennepin County Medical Center, Aziz’s enthusiasm for learning is matched only by her fierce “yearning to help others who are not as blessed and haven’t been afforded the same opportunities.” For over six years she worked as an HIV/AIDS social worker, where she witnessed the barriers that underserved communities face every day.
“It wasn’t until I started working in a hospital that I understood how much weight the word 'deprivation' carried."
"A community deprived of basic health care facilities, personnel, food, shelter, educational opportunities, and so on, will disproportionately be blighted with poor health standards.
"This will in turn affect the community’s vibrancy and its capacity to serve its citizens and, unfortunately, leave it vulnerable to issues resulting from socioeconomic imbalances.”
Aziz's desire to explore other subjects, particularly identifying converging or diverging trends in biology-related fields, led her to the MBS program. Rather than following a fixed track, she chose courses that provided “a broader understanding of scientific research both in theory and in practice, as well as how to effectively communicate that understanding.”
With equal parts ambition and compassion, Aziz plans to further serve the public through medicine. “I have worked in the HIV/AIDS field for about 10 years. I am aware of how a diagnosis affects people on an organismic level, but I didn’t have much experience in what happens on the cellular level. The MBS program allowed me to tailor my degree so I could expand my knowledge and understanding of the disease via research and courses.”
Tips for Future Students
"Believe in your potential, have a written plan if not by semester, then annually with your academic adviser. Explore professional advancement opportunities early on if possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek guidance."
Faiza is a recipient of the Ingrid Lenz Harrison Scholarship for Continuing Education.