A broken hand pointed in the right direction

Published: January 28, 2021

Queensborough helps an engineering student restructure her education plans following a painful accident

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If someone were to parade parakeets, pluck a ukulele, and procure pots, planters, and pillowcases at IKEA all at the same time, it would be Queensborough student Anika Meem. The future architectural engineer has flare for and serious designs on her future.

Meem’s pet birds, musical instrument, and iconic furniture warehouse help relieve stress. Autumn 2020 has been tough -- an accident, recovery, and worry forced her to suspend her studies in December.

“I couldn't do anything with my right hand. I couldn't function, I felt paralyzed” she said.

For the record, the Bangladesh native has never brought any of her eight tropical-feathered friends or Hawaiian lute to the stylish Swedish stadium of sideboards. But think of the selfie that could generate….

“My ligament was torn badly and required surgery, and a lot of therapy. I could not use it. It was impossible to do my college work. I could not submit my test paper on time and I started getting bad grades. I was [having a] mental breakdown as a result,” she explained over the winter break from her home in fresh Meadows.

Queensborough intervened.

“My adviser walked me through my options, and suggested to me that I reach out to my professors. Some were able to help me with extensions. I withdrew from [some courses that] were writing intensive. My calculus professor was very generous and made arrangements so I could complete the course later. He also reached out to the heads of other departments about me.” Meem explained on Zoom as she prepared for the start of the spring semester.

“My main goal is to do well in my classes, not just to pass, because I want to continue my studies at a top four-year college next year. I am studying science and engineering at Queensborough and want to study Architecture in future. My dream is to become an architectural engineer. Growing up, I always wanted to design and build my very own lake house that makes a statement and has a story behind it. I also want to build high-rises so when people walk by, they can praise their beauty and want to know who designed them,” said Meem, who first considered relocating to Munich or Berlin for an undergraduate degree. She had studied German for two years.

New York City, however, beckoned.

“I was invited from United Nations back in 2014 to attend a youth assembly. The moment I came out of the airport, I fell in love with New York. I said to myself, ‘welcome home!’. I decided to stay here. I took my English as a Second Language (ESL) course, GED course. Then I met my husband, got married within a year and a half knowing him. Everything happened so fast. But my main objective was to study, graduate and make my dream my career,” Meem said rapid-fire, adding a warning shot of sorts.

“Before we were engaged, I explained my husband how important my education is to me, my priority, that being an architectural engineer was my goal, and that marriage should not affect that. I am fortunate. My husband has been very supportive since the beginning.”

Meem chose to study at Queensborough in 2019 after completing her GED and researching other CUNY and local private colleges.

“I didn’t know how college worked and not everyone was very supportive to walk me through when I was visiting different colleges. But at Queensborough, the staff and faculty were friendly. Everyone is friendly and supportive here I would say.  They helped me out a lot. The campus was beautiful. I took a campus tour and felt a real connection. The diversity is very powerful. Everyone is ready to lift up each other no matter what ethnicity they are.”

Meem did not have a full fall semester, due to the accident, but moving to the U.S., finding Queensborough, starting college, and adapting to change (including the introduction of Distance Education) increased her resilience and determination to follow through on her aspirations.

“My advice to other students is to focus on what you want for the rest of your life. Everything else is temporary. Like my hand, it's going to get better eventually. Problems should not prevent you from moving forward and having a better future. So don’t drop out of your education. Trust me, I have seen many people say they will take a break, one or two semesters, but it ends up not being a break. It just ends broken,” she advised.

Meem expects to graduate by the fall of 2021.

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Contact:  Michael Donahue or Alice Doyle

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