Major: International Studies/Pre-med
Class: 2014 • Hometown: Chicago
As an aspiring doctor, Afra Khan spends plenty of time studying. But she’s much more than just an outstanding student.
Khan volunteers in the community and is an active member of the University’s Muslim Student Association. And if that weren’t enough, she conducts genetics research with a Loyola professor.
Here, she talks about what she’s learned as a hospital volunteer, how her research brings her textbooks to life, and why faith is so important to her.
What’s your favorite Loyola memory?
I went on a retreat with the Muslim Student Association during my freshmen year, and that is definitely one of my most memorable Loyola memories. The Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock is beautiful, and spending a weekend getting to know new people while bonding with old friends made for a great time.
Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.
Derrick Gunter of the ACE program has been one of my greatest mentors at Loyola. He helped so much in making my transition to college as easy as possible. By always encouraging me to reach higher—or by simply just listening to any and all of my problems or concerns—he has truly inspired me to go above and beyond in everything.
Tell us about your research: what it is, how you got involved, and what you hope to accomplish with it.
I have been doing genetics research with Professor Jeffrey Doering since the summer of my freshmen year at Loyola. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I was—and still am—to be able to conduct research with Professor Doering. Research has truly been one of my favorite experiences of my collegiate career because it has allowed me to actively experience what I have been learning in my science textbooks.
How has your involvement in student organizations or service work helped shape you as a person?
I volunteer at Swedish Covenant Hospital, and it has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. Through the nurses, doctors, and patients I get to interact with, I learn something new every day about the intricacies of a large community-based hospital. Interacting with patients from a very diverse neighborhood in Chicago has allowed me to learn a tremendous amount of history and culture. I definitely think that this experience has contributed to my being a well-rounded student and person.
What do you think differentiates Loyola from other universities?
The Jesuit education is a huge distinguishing factor at Loyola. My Muslim faith has always been important to me, so I love how Loyola’s Jesuit education always emphasizes that you should remember the greater glory of God. Without God, I am truly nothing.
And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
God willing, I hope to be a physician. Right now, I’m not sure what I want to specialize in, but I hope that I will find a comfortable and happy spot for myself in the medical field in the next few years.
About the weekend
Five years ago, when Loyola celebrated its first Weekend of Excellence, hundreds of students took part in the three-day event. This year, more than 1,000 students will be featured—and the event will run for four days.
It’s a testament to how far the weekend has come in such a short time.
Created as a way to honor and celebrate student achievements, the Weekend of Excellence showcases the academic, civic, and extracurricular work that Loyola students have conducted over the past year. This year’s weekend, which runs from April 16–19, will include presentations and performances, as well as student award ceremonies and induction into the Maroon & Gold Society.
To accommodate the growing number of participants—and to focus more attention on their work—the undergraduate and graduate research symposiums are now held in two different locations on Saturday, April 18. The Graduate School symposium is in the Quinlan Life Sciences building and Palm Court; the undergraduate symposium is in the Mundelein Center and Galvin Auditorium.