Mariam Sohail, 17, of Dixon is Dixon High School’s October Student of the Month. Her parents are Dr. Sohail Hanif and Sarwat Hanif, and she has a sister, Nayyab.
Favorite class? Statistics. I have also really enjoyed most of my math classes, because they have challenged me to figure out how to solve problems. Statistics allowed me to connect math to real world applications. I love looking at the world through the statistical lens of probability and bias.
Least-favorite class? I don’t really have a least favorite class. I have been lucky enough to have had wonderful teachers who have made all my classes interesting, even if they were in subjects that I would not like to pursue further.
Favorite teacher? My favorite teachers have been those who have taken the time to not just teach me a subject, but have taken the time help me grow into a confident student who enjoys learning in general. It is impossible for me to pick one teacher when I have had so many teachers who fit these exact criteria.
School activities in which you participate: Girls varsity tennis; as class officer I provide a voice for my graduating class regarding different decisions made about the high school; Key Club; and Community Engagement Committee.
Civic, church, or other volunteer activities in which you participate: I am a KSB Hospital volunteer and KSB Hospital Auxiliary Board member. I help provide a student’s perspective regarding decisions made about KSB’s volunteer program. I am a Dixon Red Cross Volunteer. I was a Dixon Meals on Wheels Volunteer during the lockdown for COVID-19. I was a student volunteer this past summer; I taught math to students in summer school at Reagan Middle School. I volunteered on the Dureji Girls Literacy Project. While on this project, I taught English and computer skills to girls from rural backgrounds. Many of these girls only had prior access to basic primary school education and this program helped them expand their skills.
What will you do after high school? I have completed my college applications, applying to many schools both in the Midwest and on the East Coast. I hope to major in economics while minoring in both statistics and Spanish. I would like to follow in my mom’s footsteps and ultimately pursue a career in law.
What is something you learned in high school that you think you’ll never use? There is nothing that comes to my mind. Every experience in life offers a lesson to be learned. Sometimes the lessons are hard and you may wish you didn’t have to learn them, but in the long run, there is some lesson that will probably come in handy later in life.
If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? I wish Dixon High School promoted more discussions of diversity of ideas. Although my experience at DHS has been a very positive one, I wish we had programs which involved inviting speakers to talk about current issues while offering differing perspectives on how we collectively can solve these problems. Life is so much more than what happens within these four years, and I wish DHS highlighted this more.
If you could create any new class at your school, what would it be? I think Dixon High School would benefit from having classes that discuss the importance of civic engagement and dialogue. I think that it is important to learn about the importance of civic engagement and involvement, particularly from a young age.
What does it take to be a successful high school student? Curiosity, enthusiasm, tolerance, and the ability to function with less than five hours of sleep. In all seriousness, though, I think ultimate success is finding subjects that interest you, with people who inspire you to be your best, and having teachers who help you find your purpose in life.
How would you describe your group of friends? Loyal and familiar. I have known most of my friends since third grade when we were selected to be a part of the accelerated program. All of us have developed our own interests along the way, but there is comfort in having friends with whom you have grown up and have known you for most of your life.
Who is your best friend? My older sister, Nayyab. Although I initially was always known as Nayyab’s little sister, I am proud to have grown into being Nayyab’s friend. I know she always offers me the best advice. She is the person I will always call first if I need anything. She is the example in my life that I always try to emulate.
What do you do in your free time, outside of school activities? I love to read. I also love listening to music and traveling.
What kind of music are you listening to? My love for R&B music began at a young age. My favorite artist is The Weeknd. I’m actually going to see him in concert with my sister in January, although my parents may be finding out about that in this article.
If you could go anywhere in the world for free, where would it be and why? I would love to visit Morocco. I love the cuisine, and have read so many amazing things about the country.
What is your favorite childhood memory? My favorite memory occurred this past summer while we were visiting colleges on the East Coast. We were running a bit late for one of the campus tours and information sessions, so my dad dropped my mom and I off close to the meeting point, while he went to find a parking spot. As time went by, my mom and I were anxiously watching for him since the tour was about to begin. That is when we saw him frantically running up a hill to join a group of students who had begun their tour 20 minutes before our tour began. My mom tried to run after him to tell him he was joining the wrong group, but she was doubled-over laughing. I finally had to call my dad, who stopped mid step to look around at where we were. Later I would find out that the dean of admissions at one of the most prestigious universities in the East Coast had watched the entire episode and was smiling and came up to me afterwards to tell me how lucky I was to have such involved parents.
What is the best way to cheer you up? Any time I have good food, I am happy.
What is your life’s philosophy? My life’s philosophy is, “Nothing is impossible; the world itself says, ‘I’m possible’” – Audrey Hepburn.
What would you do if you received $1 billion dollars all of a sudden? I would set up an organization to promote girl’s literacy in poor and underserved areas. After having volunteered in a girl’s literacy project overseas, I saw firsthand the difference a good education can make in the life of a young girl, her future, her community and her country. I would also use some of the money to help open a law firm which would give me a platform to help people who need good legal representation but maybe could not afford it.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you? I am someone who likes to observe, assess and then act. I don’t form opinions without listening to all sides. But once I form an opinion, I will work hard to support it. I am also someone who is dependable. If I give someone my word, I will live up to it. Finally, I am someone who enjoys quiet afternoons by myself.
Favorite number: 14
Favorite app: Music App
Favorite food: Any Pakistani dish
Favorite musical artist: The Weeknd
Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice
Favorite TV show: ‘Criminal Minds’
Favorite athlete: Roger Federer, Pro tennis player
Favorite book: “A Thousand Splendid Suns”
Favorite color: Green