The Muslim Business Association of Baruch College hosted its event, “The Race Against Time,” on Thursday, Feb. 23. The event featured guest speaker Dr. Omar Shareef, who spoke about his experiences as a doctor and the importance of not losing sight of one's goals throughout life.
Besides being a doctor, Shareef is a comedian who appeals to the students he talks to through his humor and positivity. “The Race Against Time” had a more serious tone, but Shareef never lost his lighthearted air when interacting with all the attendees.
Shareef is “the face” of the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament of New York, according to the MBA. MIST is an organization that brings together high school students nationwide to compete in various tournaments at a state and national level.
The organization also promotes the formation of bonds between Muslim and non-Muslim students through these tournaments.
Shareef opened the talk by speaking about an aspect of Muslim culture that many of the attendees related to: success. He spoke about success and what success is in Muslim culture. Although the definition of success has constantly gained new perspectives, Shareef explained how, to many, success is defined by the number of degrees they have.
Shareef recounted how his father had to endure this through his grandfather’s expectations of him to become a doctor. His father decided not to pursue a career in medicine and ended up studying computer science, a decision that ultimately made him happier.
His message on this topic was to not let a degree define the individual. He spoke about how the moment someone obtains a doctorate, the degree defines them and they lose a sense of individuality without it.
Shareef explained that he had nothing but admiration for those pursuing their passions, but encouraged those holding doctorates to remember not to lose their sense of self.
The talk made a gloomier turn when Shareef began speaking about a memory from his first internship as a medical student, when he witnessed a woman’s death in the intensive care unit. He recalled being excited at the notion of being in the midst of medical work.
In his naivety, he failed to understand the gravity of what was happening.
When the woman finally passed away, Shareef realized how real and traumatizing medical work was. He mentioned how he could remember everything about the room in perfect detail. The event haunted Shareef but it gave him a different perspective on life.
Shareef’s final message to the crowded room was to not take life so lightly and to remember the importance of people in our lives, such as our families.
“I could not be more grateful for the career I chose,” said Shareef. “If it had not been for my medical degree I would never have met that woman, I would never have experienced this. I would still be the same ungrateful, bratty, stupid son.”
He encouraged everyone in the room to text or call their parents that day and remind them how much they loved them.