Hajar

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My name is Hajar Tukur and I am originally from Kaduna, Nigeria but was raised in Saudi Arabia. I am a medical student currently studying in Istanbul. I have always felt strongly about medicine. Like many others, the passion started as a kid, when my idea of a fun play date was playing “Doctor” with my cousins and pretending to inject them with blunt pencils.

I’m striving to be the first doctor in the family and set an example for my girls in my family that their education doesn’t stop at 18.

For many years it was taboo for women in my family to work, and education past high school was extremely rare. My goal of becoming a doctor is deeper than having a stethoscope around my neck and Dr. before my last name. I’m striving to be the first doctor in the family and set an example for my girls in my family that their education doesn’t stop at 18.

I didn’t grow up around a lot of people that looked like me, so my role models as a child were  pretty limited. My mom, my teachers were basically it. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Dr. Lisa Masterson that I felt connected. Hers is not exactly a name that turns a lot of heads, but she captured my attention, mostly because it was the first time I saw someone that looked like me doing exactly what I wanted. She was featured in an American talk show I used to watch with my parents called “The Doctors”, where physicians would give tips and intervention strategies for real life medical situations to their audience. It was like the Dr. Phil, but the medical version. Dr. Masterson was mesmerizing to me, because she encompassed the strong, educated, woman of color I dreamed of becoming.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Dr. Lisa Masterson that I felt connected. Hers is not exactly a name that turns a lot of heads, but she captured my attention, mostly because it was the first time I saw someone that looked like me doing exactly what I wanted.

This dream of becoming a doctor though accomplishable for me was a dream far fetched for women in my family generations ago. The idea of an education used to be extremely discouraged in my family, to the extent that my great grandmother used to be hid underneath the bed so she wouldn’t have to attend school. They believed that missionaries were responsible for taking their children to schools, and were afraid they would convert their children to Christianity. So the only education they were exposed to was Islamic studies. This mentally was extended down to my grandparents. Though my grand father was able to build his empire as a self-made architect without the bases of a university education, he made education a priority for his children. For the first time, this included the girls.

The idea of an education used to be extremely discouraged in my family, to the extent that my great grandmother used to be hid underneath the bed so she wouldn’t have to attend school.

After getting married as a high school graduate my mother had the intention of furthering her studies when she moved 4,884.5 miles to Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, since university wasn’t common for a lot of women at the time, she opted for Islamic classes instead. Yet her passion for learning lingered. It didn’t matter how long she had to wait, or what obstacles were in her way, she knew everyone’s timing was different. It is with Allah’s grace that she recently graduated with an Islamic degree and is starting her Masters program. So if you ask who my greatest female influence is? Definitely my mother, even though I know it’s a cliche answer. She taught me that life can never come in the way of something you love.

Everyone has a different philosophy of what they believe it means to be a strong woman, including myself. She may be liberal or conservative, traditional or modern, or perhaps somewhere in the middle. I find it difficult to sum up the women that influence me into two names because being a women isn’t based on how successful you are in your career, if you are married, have kids, or obtained the highest level of education. In my eyes womanhood is more than what you can see. However, in this Global village we live in where females are able to choose how they want to be viewed as a women, it makes defining womanhood a little more complex. There is no way to judge a female’s womanhood when you can’t see past what is on your screen. You can’t become a woman you see online, but you can pick a trait and build on it. I pick the traits I admire and try to encompass them to myself and reflect it on my platform. There is still so much I want to incorporate in my posts to truly reflect more of who I am and what I love. Seeing more Muslims and women of color being represented on the media further motivates me to do more with my platform.

You can’t become a woman you see online, but you can pick a trait and build on it. I pick the traits I admire and try to encompass them to myself and reflect it on my platform.

Unlike men, women aren’t raised to compete; however, we have the reputation of being catty and petty. This notion is due to the fact that males are raised being encouraged to have healthy competition among one another in order to build confidence, but is a trait that is undesirable in females, because it takes away from the “softestness” a girl is meant to be. The natural competitive behavior of females is suppressed, which turns to hostile competition.

If girls from the beginning are raised to have healthy competition and healthy compassion openly, the ideology of women being each others competition wouldn’t be such a negative notion. It’s important to have healthy competition and compassion in order to build confidence, empower women, and encourage support without them feeling the need to minimize their achievements for another woman’s comfort.

I have always visualized the type of woman I want to eventually become, and it isn’t a reflection of one or two women, but several. These women range from well known women such as Michelle Obama and the Prophets wives to women I just met on the street. Each had an influence on me. However, I would say the women who had the most influence on my career, character, and personality would be the women in my family and Dr. Masterson. I feel like these women made me stronger and more sure of my dream to become a doctor. I am happy to have such empowered female role models.

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