Latest Blog Posts

Alumni Spotlight: Fizzah Shaikh (’16)

December 11, 2017 / Catherine Nicholas / Blog

How do MLWGS students choose where to apply to college and ultimately where to attend? How do they handle the transition from high school to college? Our youngest alumni have the freshest perspectives on college applications, admissions, and selection.   Fizzah Shaikh (’16) is a student at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

Fizzah found the community at Maggie Walker to be the most meaningful part of her high school experience.  “I think you would be hard pressed to find another group of students that have so many broad-reaching interests and can really show their passion for so many different things.”  She has been fortunate to find another strong community at Northeastern.  “I have the best roommates—we’ve been friends since orientation and they are my support system at school. I’ve played intramural soccer, built a marine robotic sampler, and had inter-college snowball fights.”

When it came time to apply to college, “I would never had even applied to Northeastern if my upperclassmen friends, especially Tallie Hausser, hadn’t gone there and loved it,” Fizzah says.  She has been very happy with her decision.  “I felt so at home in Boston from the first day I visited.  I love how it feels like a small town with the resources of a big city. Also (you’ll hear any Northeastern student talk about this), I loved their co-op program. Essentially, you have 6-month periods where you work at a company and explore your field. A lot of my peers (myself included) use co-op as a way to travel, or try a new specialty.”  [You can read more about the co-op program in this profile of Corinne Bowers ’13—Ed.]

Of her decision to go to college out of state, she says, “I love traveling, so going out of state felt like a natural choice for me.”  Fizzah has enjoyed having the opportunity to live in Boston. “Everything is very well-connected by public transportation and Boston is an extremely walk-able city,” she says.  “I love being a part of the vibrant college community here and going off-campus to explore the city. I’ve seen Yo-Yo Ma play at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, watched Edna Kiplagat cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon, and I also saw Amy Poehler talk for my school’s homecoming event.”

Fizzah didn’t go into college sure of what path she would take.  “I was super conflicted about my major freshman year,” she says.  “Tallie Hausser (’15) and I had a long talk about choosing a major based on the type of thinking, not on the content. My advice to rising college freshmen would be: you can pick up a book (or Wiki article) on any topic in the known universe, but you can’t recreate certain experiences. I used to be nervous about if I would necessarily enjoy the content of my classes, especially the technical ones, but I realized what I appreciate the most about my major is how it teaches me to think and solve problems. Every college/major has a slightly different ethos to their work/field and I think that’s more important to focus on than the name itself.”

Fizzah is an electrical engineering major, and she is considering declaring a minor in either English or environmental biology. “I honestly had no idea what I was going to major in because I loved so many subjects at Maggie Walker, but I didn’t follow the traditional route for an engineering major,” she explains.  “I never took AP Physics or AP Calculus in high school and I wasn’t on robotics nor did I program in my free time. My point is that, never put yourself in a box just because something seems like its outside of what you’ve been doing.”

Her major is more than just a set of classes.  It’s also a great group of students.  “Most people in my major are collaborative and prefer working together rather than competing, and even graduate students are willing to help with projects,” she explains.  “The professors are really helpful for getting honest feedback. I think that’s the most important part of choosing a college. A school can have the best department in the world at a certain field, but if you personally don’t feel comfortable, it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone and pursue those interests.”

One particularly interesting class she’s taken was “Environment and Society,” taught by professor, Dr. Daniel Faber, the author of Bernie Sander’s environmental policy.  “Every day of that class was incredibly eye-opening,” she says. “I think everyone should be required to take a class like that because it revealed the grip that the oil and gas lobby has on the American government and how its influence shapes the decisions our government has made.”

To students going through the college application and admissions process, Fizzah says,  “I know how stressful college application time can get at Maggie Walker. My advice is to turn this period into a time to reflect on your inner strengths and goals, and tune out what everybody else says you should be doing. Listen to the people that genuinely care about your path in life, not to those who just care about the name of your school. I got rejected by my top-choice but looking back, I’m glad because the environment there would have been incredibly stressful for me as an undergrad.”

The 2017-18 Annual Fund supports all of our programming for and about alumni.  Help us keep telling the story of Governor’s School by making a contribution today.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,