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A Profound Sense of Purpose

Maryam Khalil 21 at Dickinson College.

Maryam Khalil ’21 

On the advice of her First-Year Seminar professor, Maryam Khalil ’21 (international business & management, economics) thinks deeply about the way that she uses her time. She’s found a profound sense of purpose in helping and connecting with others, as a student-leader for the Office of Religious Life, a service-trip leader, global ambassador for the Center for Global Study & Engagement, event manager for W.I.N.D., and member of the Muslim Educational and Cultural Association. And with sponsorship from Dickinson, she attended a six-day Young Leaders Conference in Lahore, Pakistan.


Islamabad, Pakistan.


International business & management and economics.

Clubs and organizations:

Office of Religious Life (student-leader), International Orientation (student-assistant), Center for Global Study & Engagement (global ambassador), service trips (student-leader), W.I.N.D. (event manager) and Muslim Educational and Cultural Association.


John Montgomery Scholarship.

Favorite book:

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.

Favorite place on campus:

The balcony on the second floor of Rector.

Favorite professor:  

I have had the pleasure of being taught by individuals who teach ethics, morals and principles in an even more amazing way than they teach their subjects. One of those individuals is my advisor, Steve Riccio [lecturer in international business & management], who was also my First-Year Seminar professor. Every time I meet him, I have something new to learn. The most important lesson he has taught me is that time is life’s most valuable resource, and what I do with it reflects who I am.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Broccoli-cheddar soup from the Caf.

Biggest influence:

My dean, Tara Fischer. I have had the pleasure of spending my life’s best 10 days on a service trip with her. She is easily one of those really close people in my life whom I would always count on whenever someone would ask me about my purpose role model.

She is not just my dean but also a friend—the kind of friend who always believes in you, motivates you and makes sure you become the best possible version of yourself. I will never forget the life lessons she has taught me (apart from hammering nails, putting shingles on the roofs and drilling screws into the walls).

Little-known hobby/talent:

I love collecting postcards from all the places I visit.

Proudest accomplishment: 

My proudest accomplishment came last year in the form of being accepted to Dickinson College. It has been the best and, probably, the most significant experience of my life. Plus, being the only Pakistani girl on campus is an honor itself!

About my internship:

Last summer, I attended the six-day Young Leaders Conference in Lahore, Pakistan, and I was sponsored by Dickinson College to attend this event. I wrote a blog post, sharing my experience.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:  

During my first semester, while working for my First-Year Seminar class, The Meaning and Purpose of Life, I found a quote by Picasso stating, “The meaning of your life is to find your gift; the purpose of your life is to give it away.” This quote made me think for a while, and a few questions arose in my mind: “What is my gift?” “Have I found my gift yet?” In the quest for answers to my questions, I started recognizing the gifts around me. Somewhere between discovering my gift and sharing it with others, I found my life’s purpose through this class.

The most significant gift I discovered through this class was the gift of giving. I discovered this gift by volunteering with the Salvation Army soup kitchenette, hurricane relief, Safe Harbor-Night Without a Home, and Habitat for Humanity, South Carolina. All four of these experiences taught me that helping others not only gives you an inner satisfaction but also a purpose in your life. These experiences taught me the importance of service and doing all that you can for those in your community and outside of it. I learned that donating your time to a valuable cause can be extremely rewarding, not only for those directly impacted, but for yourself, for your local community and, in the long run, for us all.

I discovered that my gift is the zeal to help others, and my purpose is to keep sharing this gift of giving. I believe it is our duty to recognize these gifts and use them to share our message of hope and love with the world. The world needs our voices, our messages and our experiences, so that they can resonate in the hearts of others and give hope and courage to show that it is possible to overcome anything.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a doctor.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I wish to pursue higher education in a graduate school in Europe and then go back to my home country to improve the lives of the underprivileged women with my knowledge, stories and experiences.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …  

… my late grandfather, who passed away when I was 1. I also share a birthday with him.

Read more Student Snapshots.



Published December 12, 2018