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7 questions with Ayesha Khan

18 May 2017

Seven questions with Ayesha Khan

This week, meet Ayesha Khan, a Cancer MSc student who is set to graduate next summer. Ayesha is a Student Journalist for myUCL,she is passionate about science communications, counts Saroo Brierley as a major inspiration and has some great recommendations for things to do in London.

1. Why are you interested in studying cancer and what do you plan to do in the future?

During my undergraduate degree I was fortunate enough to have been given a project entailing breast cancer and some new drugs that were being trialled to reduce the burden of the disease. This invaluable lab experience, intertwined with my general interest for problem solving and understanding complex mechanisms, made me certain that cancer was an area I wanted to further explore.

As well as science, I’ve also always had an interest in writing - and it never really occurred to me until a few months back that the two could go so neatly hand in hand! The ultimate aim is to land myself a position in the science communications sector - an opportunity to communicate science to a lay audience. I think this kind of communication is vital, in getting the general public to better understand the impact of their actions and what can be done to help them lead healthier and happier lives.

2. What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

I think the most interesting thing I’ve got involved in at UCL was taking part in the UCLU elections. Although I was not elected (only 33 votes short), I think it was one of the most amazing journeys for me.

When I put myself up for elections, I was pretty much unknown on campus, having only been at UCL for five months and normally tucked away in some hidden room on Tottenham Court Road for lectures. However, I had an amazing team behind me who supported me from day one and truly did everything they could to see me through.

The enormity of elections at UCL is something I have never witnessed before and the passion of all students standing was incredible. I think the entire experience enabled me to really get to know UCL better, as well as building me as an individual.

Throughout the campaign I gained confidence I never knew existed, pushed myself for 5am starts everyday and ultimately gave it all that I had. So for me and I what I achieved, I class it as a victory in it’s own right. An opportunity to meet hundreds of students, conquer personal boundaries and build some strong friendships that will last way beyond my time here.

3. Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

The Paul O’Gorman/UCL Cancer Institute Building is tucked away along Huntley Street and for me it’s the perfect place for pretty much anything and everything!

The ground floor café provides a great setting to catch up with friends over a coffee as well as being home to weekly lunchtime lectures from international and national experts in the field. The building is also glass-walled and so the view from the sixth floor staircase is something I could admire all day long.

4. Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

Sky Gardens: I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been here. The view of London from the 35th floor is stunning! You notice something new every time you look out. I also find it quite a tranquil space - an exotic garden way above the hustle and bustle of city life.

St Dunstan in the East Church Garden: This space was once a functional church, however it was partly destroyed in World War 2. Today this gothic styled empty shell, with it’s rustic stone walls, fountain and lawn make it one of the best photography spots in London. It also serves as a fantastic location to catch up on some reading or to eat your lunch.

Kenwood House: This former stately home provides a great insight into 17th century architecture and upper-class living standards. As well as the structural delights of the building there is also some great artwork from Rembrandt and Vermeer on the walls and some very intricate decor throughout.

5. If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?

I believe that every student deserves a freedom of expression and creativity, however for many, they are not given the platform or adequate support to do so. Therefore, if I was Provost for the day, I would set out to equip the student body with the tools they need to carve out and pursue their ideas - allowing them to achieve what they may have never thought possible.

6. Who inspires you and why?

Saroo Brierley. I actually heard Saroo's story back in 2012, before his book ‘A Long Way Home’ and the recent film ‘Lion’ came to light. For me his journey was one of courage, determination and strength of character, as he sets out to find ‘home’. An individual who never gave up hope and of how the good of the world came to him in his darkest of moments.

Saroo’s story always reminds me to be thankful for those that surround me and to always see the best in every given situation. He is also the perfect advocate for never giving up on your dreams; because deep within, we all have the power to succeed in monumental ways.

7. What would it surprise people to know about you?

I’ve always been an individual who is constantly seeking a new challenge to conquer - a jack of all trades (but master of none). Over the last few years I’ve tried my hand at videography, photography, blogging, calligraphy, painting and poetry. I’m actually currently putting together a poetry book for publication in a month or so!