Nadia Karizat: GSI of Three (THREE!!) Schools

Her Campus had the opportunity to sit down with Nadia Karizat, a GSI and researcher assistant, who is following one of the most unique academic paths that the University of Michigan has ever seen. While sitting down with Nadia, I learned more about her academics, future goals, and all the advice that she has to share!



HC: What are you majoring in/what schools are they in?


NK: "I am getting a dual degree in Urban and Regional Planning and Health Informatics (MURP/MHI)! The Urban and Regional Planning Degree is in the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and the Health Informatics degree is a joint-degree program in the School of Information and School of Public Health! So, technically, I'm a student in all three schools. As far as I know, I'm the first student to do a dual degree in these two programs, so we'll see what happens." 


HC: What inspired you to choose this specific academic path?


NK: “The summer before my senior year, I did research with the School of Public Health. I worked with Professor Mehdipanah doing research on housing, public health, and the intersection of how the built environment impacts people’s health. It made me realize that we’re all living in the built environment, which hugely impacts our day-to-day lives. Not everyone has genuine accessibility to various opportunities, and so the reason why I’m interested in informatics and public health and urban planning is to figure out how we can best design or best build the built environment and make access to resources and information easily available to people so that people can have their equal chances to being healthy.”


HC: Do you find urban planning, public health, or informatics the most interesting?


NK: “I more so look at urban planning as the way I want to improve public health, because there are a lot of different ways to get involved with public health since it’s such a broad field. I think urban planning is the lens that I want to look at Public Health issues through. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to link information and urban planning, but I think that often people don’t know where to get resources or even how to make sense of all the information that’s out there, and I want to help with that. Also, I want to answer the question of how we actually design information so that people can improve their health?”



HC: What about your educational background makes you unique?


NK: “I’m the only one doing a dual degree in health informatics and urban planning, so I still am trying to figure out how to make that work, because most people I talk to don’t really understand the connection between my dual degree. But I know that I have an end goal: working on how to design and improve accessibility so people can lead healthier lives, although I still am trying to figure out what exactly it’ll translate into. By the time I end up graduating I’ll have such a broad skillset that I honestly can’t tell you what I’ll be doing in five years from now. It could go in so many directions. In undergrad, I was an English major, with has nothing to do with what I’m doing today. Combining my English skills with my current dual degree definitely gives me a uniquely broad education in lots of very different concepts.”



HC: If another student plans to follow your unique academic path, what skills do you believe are vital for them to possess?


NK: “Very broadly speaking, one skill is to look at anything to come your way as a potential opportunity. While I say this, I don’t want people to bite off more than they can chew, because I feel like nowadays there’s this tendency to say, “I’m going to say yes to everything!” and then end up overwhelmed and stressing yourself out. That being said, when things come your way, don’t immediate say that it’s not for me. Be open to opportunities that come your way, because if I hadn’t been open to my opportunities, I don’t even know what I would’ve been doing right now. When I met Dr. Mehdipanah and she talked about urban planning, that was the first time I had ever really considered it. And then I just explored it more, keeping an open mind, and discovered that it was something that I really want to do. And now I love it. Also, always ask for help, reach out to people, ask for advice. I think so often we’re told to do things on our own and to figure it out ourselves, but there’s no shame in talking to people and asking for help, because everyone around you is a potential resource of information and you can learn so much from them.”



HC: What leadership positions do you have that relate to your area of studies?


NK: “In undergrad, I was really involved in this organization called the Middle East and Arab Network, and we did a lot of work to educate the MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) community on campus on topics that weren’t usually discussed in this community. We talked about sex and relationships, access to mental health resources, and other topics that are considered kind of taboo that people especially in this community don’t really talk about. Our main goals were pinpointing issues that needed to be addressed and providing a safe space to discuss these issues. I care about this club because I care about social justice and inequity, and these same issues are part of the reason I wanted to improve accessibility for everyone through urban planning and public health. I want all voices to have an equal chance of being heard. “


HC: What is your dream job?


NK: “I’ve actually recently considered getting a PhD because recently I’ve just been geeking out about everything and I just want to keep going! While I do not know what specific job I want in the future, I do know I want to dedicate my time to work towards a future where a healthy lifestyle is affordable and accessible to all, regardless of social identity or zip code. This means access to information, access to genuine opportunities to be healthy and access to a built environment designed to give everyone the best chance of living their best life. I come from a family where the children are told to either become engineers, lawyers or doctors. As the first of my family to be interested in urban planning, I'm navigating this new adventure on my own. In whatever I end up doing with my graduate education, I want it to involve working alongside communities—to make myself and my resources available to them."



HC: As a current GSI at U of M, what do you hope your students gain from your class?


NK: “A lot of my students during office hours have expressed the sense of not knowing what they want to do. Most of my students are sophomores, and I feel like sophomore year is when a lot of times people start feeling the pressure to decide their major. I didn’t even decide on my major until second semester my junior year. There’s so much pressure to just know what you want to do, and so we box ourselves in and tell ourselves “I like this, so I have to do this.” So, when students talk to me about their indecisiveness, I try to expose them to many opportunities that they may not have thought about before. I hope my students can gain the knowledge to not box themselves into an idea for yourself, because that idea can always change. If you find something that you’re interested in, explore it further! Keep as many options open as possible. Because we’re still so young I think it would be sad to force yourself to do something just because it fits some idea that you once had for yourself. Would it really make you happy in the long term?”


***sidenote subtle brag*** 

Nadia was my GSI this semester for AmCult 201 and she was the best – so, everyone sign up for the class pls and thx (it fulfills the race and ethnicity requirement and is really interesting!)