By Azmat Ali Shah
MARDAN, 20 September: In the land of Pakhtunns where every girl do not enjoy access to higher education and other facilities due to cultural and other impediments, Shandana Noor from Swabi has emerged as a shining star and role model to be followed by other girls.
Shandana moved to Mardan from Swabi for education and left behind boys in her achievements in her medical studies at the Bacha Khan Medical College, Mardan. She has won eight gold medals for her top performance in her medical exams of the college. In an exclusive interview with TNN, Shandana has shared details about her successful journey.
TNN: Why did you prefer medical education over other fields of study?
Shandana: I personally wanted to join the defence forces and become a fighter pilot, but my parents wanted me to become a doctor. Medical profession is best suited for women. We can make future for ourselves and serve our country in this profession.
TNN: What were your feelings when you came to know about winning eight gold medals?
Shandana: I cannot find words to explain my feelings of happiness at that time. It was a big honour for me. At the same time it put further responsibility on my shoulders to justify this distinction and work even harder to excel in my field.
TNN: Sometimes women don’t get support for their endeavours from family. How much support did you get from your family?
Shandana: Family support is essential for a girl in her education. My family fully supported me for my education and other requirements. They never let me feel that I am a girl.
TNN: What is your opinion about the existing course for medical students and its teaching methodology?
Shandana: There are a lot of books to study in the five-year medical course. I think practical education is also very important alongside book reading. Students should be able to practically do things which they study in books.
TNN: In which subjects you have won the gold medals?
Shandana: I topped Fourth Year exam here in Mardan, Fourth Year Community Medicine, Final Year, university exam, Surgery, Eye, Gynaecology and Paediatrics. I won eight gold medals in Mardan and if I also count the medals of Bannu Medical College then I have won total 14 medals.
TNN: Normally parents in our community pay more attention to the education of their boys and ignore girls. What is your take on this?
Shandana: Very positive changes have been witnessed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa now. The population of women is more than men and women are excelling in every field of life. Those who think that women should not step outside their homes must realise that Almighty Allah has not created women without a reason. Women have all capabilities to work for the betterment of their families and serve the country.
TNN: What steps should be taken for promotion of women education in Pakistan, particularly in KP?
Shandana: Our media is playing a very positive role in creating awareness among the people about importance of women education. Women are equally good in every profession besides teaching and medical fields.
TNN: What are your future targets and goals?
Shandana: I am planning to prepare for further studies abroad after completing my house job at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. I want to excel in the field of surgery.
TNN: Many talented students of Pakistan go abroad after completing their education in Pakistan. What is your opinion about brain drain in Pakistan?
Shandana: Joblessness in Pakistan is the main cause of this issue. When students put in all their efforts and fail to get jobs in Pakistan then they find no option other than going abroad and making a career.
TNN: Some doctors have turned this job of public service into a money-making business. How this trend can be stopped?
Shandana: Everyone should keep in mind that success is not possible without the blessings of Almighty Allah. One should realise that he will have to appear before Allah to account for his deeds. People should not destroy their future for meagre monetary benefits.
TNN: Will you like to give any message to the newcomers in the medical field, especially women?
Shandana: I will advise them to concentrate on their studies and also seek prayers from their family members and patients. If we treat every patient like our family member and feel his pain we will improve our profession and the condition of our country.
— Translation by Aamir Khan