Shattering social norms to pursue individual happiness

In 2001, when I was 12 years old, my father was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. The doctors said that he would live for three years at most. My mother wanted me to get married before my father died. At the end of 2003, my family arranged for an “eligible suitor” to come and see me. Everything was almost set when my father asked me whether I wanted to get married. My answer was a straight “No”, and the marriage was put off. My father died in 2004, four months before I took my O-Levels exam.

After my O-Levels, my mother again tried to convince me to get married. But I wanted to take the A-Level exam because all of my friends were taking it. I begged my mother and convinced her that I would get married as soon as I finished A-Levels.

During my four years of college, I only gave myself the option of earning an A in every course that I took so that I could get a scholarship. In the end, I ended up obtaining the highest grade point average in my class, which led me to win the Vice Chancellor’s, Gold Medal.

After my A-levels, I had to convince my family about my desire to complete my bachelor's degree. Every single day, I was tormented because I wanted to study rather than get married and settle down. I had to constantly choose between my education and everything else. I always chose education. The decision was not easy, and I was extremely depressed at one point

Upon graduation, I was offered the position of a Lecturer in my university. However, I wanted to go abroad to pursue higher studies. Since I did not have the money, I worked for three years as a Lecturer to accumulate savings. With the blessing of Allah, I received a fellowship for a Ph.D. at a North American university and is currently staying in the United States.

A new chapter in life has begun and now it’s a different struggle. Hopefully, I will be able to make my family proud again. Please remember, no matter how hard life seems, there’s always a way out of difficult situations.

From her friends at IvyTies, we congratulate Aysha Siddique Shanta on pursuing her education dreams despite all the obstacles posed by society, and wish her all the best for the future.

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