Student Profile: Zill Huma '19

Student Profile: Zill Huma '19

by Gregg Casazza '19 and Samantha Mocle

As a mother of three school-aged children, Zill Huma '19 has reinvented what it means to multitask in pursuit of higher education. Huma received the equivalent of an associate's degree in her native Pakistan before arriving in the United States in 2011, and she began her bachelor's degree program at Lasell College in 2016. For the past three years she has been a full-time student, intern, mother, and homemaker - and will soon become a Lasell alumna in pursuit of her CPA license. She graduates this spring with degrees in finance and accounting, and the triumphant satisfaction of conquering obstacles in time management, self-acceptance, and the American academic experience.

Zill Huma '19 | Photo by Justin Knight
Photo by Justin Knight

What sparked the idea to return to school? A friend of mine asked for my help understanding a math assignment for an online course. She got an A+ for her work, something she said had never happened before. My husband suggested that I return to school, and so we took a chance. With every step - the TOEFL exam, applying, registering for courses - I thought something would go wrong.

Was it easy to pick up where you left off?  My academic mindset got left behind when I got married.I wasn't reading as much or staying involved with current affairs. I struggled a bit with my English. I had three young children. Despite that, I never missed a class and found ways to do all of my work and take care of my family. It helped that Dean of Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid Jim Tweed met with me to review the cost to attend and find a way to get my degree in three years to ease the burden on my family. He gave me courage right at the start. I'll never forget that.

What is a typical day like for you and your family? I get my girls ready for school at 7 a.m. before my morning classes. If I have an hour in the afternoon, I go home to make dinner and help with homework. I get my own assignments done after they go to bed, sometimes until 3 a.m. On the weekends, I sometimes cater events to keep my personal finances up while I'm in school.

Has the journey changed you? I came here completely uncomfortable in my own skin. My confidence was in the negative. My first class was calculus with [now retired] Professor Malini Pillai, and seeing her in traditional clothes - wearing a sari, like me - gave me motivation. I felt comfortable sitting in the front row and participating. Assistant Professors Robert Zuar and Donna Scipione have understood my needs and guided me along the way. And, the courses I took in the honors program with Associate Professor Stephanie Athey taught me empathy. I have been through so much in my life that I thought I could never feel bad for anyone. I took a course on torture that forced me to put myself in others' shoes. I learned how to relate to others and understand different points of view.

Was the investment worth it? Seeing what I have done, my daughters know that they can do anything. My oldest daughter got a 92 percent on her MCAS exam last year and told me that she got her love for math because she saw how I worked with numbers. My middle daughter has Autism Spectrum Disorder and struggled academically for a while, and is now at the top of her class. I cried when I saw her report card. I realized with both of those instances that if I had given up on my dream, my daughters wouldn't have admired the work I did. It would have been more than just my loss.

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Past issues of Leaves Magazine at Lasell College