Rohma Khan chose St. Mike’s as her college because she fell in love with the architecture. But as she counts down the days until convocation, she knows it’s the people she will miss the most.
“When I chose St. Mike’s, the decision was based on the beautiful old buildings that reminded me of Hogwarts,” she says, referencing the Harry Potter franchise. But, says Khan, who is a Senior Residence Don, “I am going to miss my team, and working with the Dean’s office. I’m going to miss the people!”
Khan, who majored in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, with minors in Philosophy and Diaspora and Transnational Studies, says she learned both technical skills and life skills in her time in university.
While she came to university confident in her writing ability, for example, she soon realized she had more to learn. In a first-year seminar class, her professor, Anne Porter, recommended she work on her writing.
“She told me that I had great ideas but that I could express myself better. This was a surprise as I had always done really well in high school. But she told me that if my writing improved, I’d be unstoppable. I listened. Today, I am very proud of my writing.”
And the new course on the hit Korean television program Squid Game offered at St. Mike’s this past year by Dr. Paolo Granata left a powerful impression on her.
“The show was known for its violence, but it also has a very powerful, hopeful message that underneath the violence there is still goodness – and we are good people. Such a juxtaposition!”
There were also lessons to experience outside the classroom. Khan was in first year when the pandemic hit, and when COVID precautions meant she was eating in her room and taking courses online in her dorm, it made it harder to make friends, and she felt the isolation.
But then she began to think more about how so many students were in the same position and that, while she might be isolated, she was not alone, so she began to focus on making connections. And when she became a Residence Don, and then a Senior Residence Don she ensured she was mindful of checking in to make sure the students under her watch were okay and knew that they were part of a caring community.
“We need to be kinder to ourselves,” she says. “We are all struggling. You often think you’re the only one feeling guilty about the hours you don’t spend doing schoolwork, or whether you’ve done your best, but your best is only done when you are happy and healthy. We all need to stop and take a break from time to time. I had to learn this myself.”
As she reflects on her experience at St. Mike’s, she is quick to praise the community she has found.
“St. Mike’s is tight-knit community and there’s always somebody to take care of you. Whether in the COOP or the quad, you’ll always find someone who will help you.”
Now, Khan is planning to travel, with Jasper and Banff on her itinerary, and then write the LSAT (the law school admission test).
She says that being a Don was a big commitment with great responsibility but that she was happy to assume the role because she knows first-hand the value of building community.
“I wanted to return the favour and was happy to push the energy forward.”