November 12, 2020

Aspiring physician Maryam Makhdoom is SIU’s 2020 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate

by Christi Mathis

Maryam_Makhdoom-sm.jpgCARBONDALE, Ill. — Maryam Makhdoom is the 2020 Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate for Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The public health major from Carbondale is among the seniors from the state’s four-year colleges and universities honored for excellence in academic, curricular and extracurricular activities. She and other students were recognized Tuesday, Nov. 10, with the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award during the 46th annual Student Laureate ceremony, which was virtual this year.

Makhdoom wants to devote her life to helping improve the health and lives of people however she can. She is particularly interested in the emerging interdisciplinary fields of global health diplomacy.

Her goal is to become a physician, focusing on health disparities and inequalities. She said she will likely specialize in the care of women and children. SIU is helping Makhdoom prepare for her career in many ways.

The natural choice

Growing up in the region, Makhdoom said she knew SIU well and liked what she saw. But she was accepted into several universities and actually enrolled elsewhere, then decided to attend her first two years of college at SIU to stay close to her family and friends and then transfer. Once she became a Saluki, she couldn’t imagine transferring. 

“SIU has been instrumental in my success,” she said. “My public health studies have been especially amazing. The professors, particularly Dr. Mallory Gary, who nominated me for this award, are so very supportive of me and all of the students. SIU’s public health department is really a wonderful program.”

She said she is “very humbled” to receive the award and grateful to her family and SIU for the love, guidance and support they have provided.

Scholastically strong

Makhdoom’s academic achievements and abilities led to her selection as a University Honors student, and she will chair SIU’s Honors Research Symposium in spring 2021.

During a visit to Cuba sponsored by the University Honors program and the School of Law, Makhdoom worked on a comparative analysis of U.S. and Cuban health care. She initially wrote a paper about her research and later turned it into a poster presentation. 

“One interesting finding is that the American health care system is influenced heavily by the individualistic culture whereas the Cuban health care system is heavily influenced by the collectivist culture, and that tends to affect health outcomes,” she said.

She is seeking a Fulbright scholarship for the 2021-22 year to expand her research into how cultural values affect health outcomes. 

Wants to help

Plans for a career spent helping others come as no surprise to those who have seen Makhdoom devote much time and energy to helping others as a Saluki. Community service has already played a large role in Makhdoom’s college career.

She is especially proud of her work as a “Hotspotter.” The only SIU undergraduate involved with the program operated by the SIU School of Medicine, with assistance from the School of Social Work, in conjunction with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Makhdoom works with people who frequently utilize hospital services. The goal is to provide information, assistance and a coordinated approach to help the patients receive better, more cost-effective medical care.  

Makhdoom’s other activities have included:

In addition to her campus activities, Makhdoom is active in her local mosque. Although the pandemic changed many things presently, her volunteer activities have included helping with dinners, bake sales and starting a book club. In her rare free time, she also enjoys painting, cooking and reading, and she has a love of learning and professional growth.