Meet Rehana Khan

Learn about the inspirational journey of Rehana Khan.

Chase Your Dreams and Embrace STEMM with Passion

Growing up in a middle-class family in India, I had a childhood filled with love, empathy, numerous challenges, and a deep-seated desire to make a difference. One strong memory that has stayed with me is the train rides with my mom, where I would often see blind individuals navigating their way through life with incredible strength. Their silent struggles left a lasting impact on my young sensitive heart, and my mom’s words—”Grow up and help those who cannot see”—became the guiding light of my journey.

I always knew I wanted to become a doctor, but the road to medical school seemed dauntingly distant due to financial constraints. Determined to take a step towards my dream, I pursued optometry—a field that allowed me to improve people’s vision through prescribing glasses. While this brought me immense satisfaction, I soon realized that I wanted to do more than just correct vision; I wanted to prevent the very conditions that lead to vision loss. 

Transitioning from clinical practice to research was challenging, marked by numerous struggles, failures, and, importantly, achievements. The turning point came when I was offered the opportunity to pursue a PhD in Vision Science and Artificial Intelligence in UNSW, Sydney Australia. For someone who had never been beyond home, school, or college, it was a bold leap—a decision made with immense determination. This path meant leaving behind the familiar comforts of home, departing from loved ones, living independently, facing challenges head-on, and embracing a world full of new opportunities. 

Amidst the hustle and bustle of research, juggling work and life responsibilities, and moments of quiet contemplation, I found myself growing in ways I never imagined. Learning coding from scratch, networking with people, diving deep into the complexities of vision research, and discovering the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in healthcare—all of these experiences have transformed me from a shy person into a stronger woman. 

Every day, as I dive deeper into my research on early detection and prevention of ocular and systemic diseases, I am reminded of why I embarked on this journey. My mom’s words continue to echo in my mind, urging me to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those affected by blindness and other eye conditions. 

This is not just about my academic pursuits; it is a reflection of my personal growth. It highlights how dreams can change us, the strength we gain from never giving up, and the limitless possibilities that await when we dare to follow our passion. As I continue on this path, I have learned that the STEMM journey is not just a destination to reach, but a path that unfolds before us when passion leads the way. 

Meet Shamim Aryampa 

Where there is a will, there is a way 

Since childhood, I always had my mind set on pursuing a career in environmental management. I could see the environmental pollution around me and the deteriorating air and water quality, and I was motivated to be among the people who contribute to solving the environmental issues we face as a society. While pursuing my career, I further developed a passion for sustainability and sustainable development which are critical for a resilient society. I would never have imagined the amount of satisfaction that I would get by following my dreams. I feel like my contribution to research and teaching in civil and environmental engineering makes a significant impact on the curious minds of the next generation. Sharing my knowledge and expertise with students and conducting research that contributes to solving real-world problems leaves me feeling fulfilled. I love my work and I am happy that I followed my dreams despite the numerous challenges that would have made it easier to quit than continue.