Haleema Khan

Biomedical Engineering MASc Candidate, McGill University | 2016 Scholar

“I read the email and it said, "Congratulations, you've been chosen for the Schulich Scholarship!" When I told my dad, I could see it in his face, he was a little bit emotional because when we first migrated to Canada, he likely never imagined that someday his daughter would have a fully-funded undergraduate education. I think it came full circle for him in that moment, that he made the right decision to move and be away from his whole life that he had known in Pakistan, so that my brother and I could succeed.”


Born in Lahore, Pakistan. Moved to Canada at age 5.


“Now I’m in Biomedical Engineering, which is all about creative problem solving for the most pressing challenges in healthcare and medicine."

"My research is focused on detecting viruses and bacteria. It's unique that I get to work on this as we're using tiny devices that hold small sample volumes that allow us to detect different viruses and bacteria in a quick turnaround! If we can keep up the progress of our work, if there's another big disease outbreak, it would help combat that.”
"My mom and dad never limited me in what I wanted to pursue. They were always encouraging me, even if it was to go to a university far away. They were also encouraging for me to try different extracurricular activities. They never hesitated in dropping me off at school for extracurriculars after long work days. They encouraged me to dream bigger because in a way, that was the purpose of moving to Canada, to have new opportunities, to have these cool experiences and to live a better life than they had."
"It’s important to have a creative outlet. For me, art is something I always come back to. I still do it now, digitally on my laptop. Art keeps me energized and motivated."



Don’t feel pressure to do things the conventional way. Listen to yourself, and follow your heart. Listen to what's important to you, what you want to bring to your community. Be tuned in to that little voice inside, and the rest will fall into place.


Mr. Kennedy was a challenging math teacher. His standards were high for his students. But he was also approachable and relatable. I remember in my spare period, I would often find myself going to his classroom and asking him questions about homework and life advice. He opened up about his own experiences and his own decision-making processes. Hearing his stories helped me find my own.


It’s important to work in an environment that you can enjoy, with the people you work with. Sometimes that's more important than the work itself. Having a supportive team and a supportive supervisor really makes all the difference! I'm very lucky right now because I have an amazing PhD student that I work alongside. He is encouraging about the learning process. For him, failure is just as important as success. I think that makes a big difference to how I stay motivated in the lab on a daily basis, because a lot of the work can be repetitive and sometimes it can feel challenging.


Being from Pakistan, and having lived in a lot of the small Canadian towns, I've felt pressure (from myself) to fit in. Now as a grown up, I ask myself, why? My culture is so beautiful. I believe who you are is what makes you special, and what will make you interesting in the world of science. Embrace your identity and try to feel comfortable with standing out!

Discover other Schulich leaders