Uplifting and supporting others

Alumna Kanwal Haq said her time at MU was highlighted by outstanding mentors and supportive faculty.

Kanwal Haq

April 30, 2024

Kanwal Haq first ran across the words — “the idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world” — in her Readings in Biological Science course during her sophomore year at the University of Missouri. The words from the Honors College class would change the trajectory of her life.

“That class honestly changed everything,” Haq said. “I knew I was interested in medicine, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I shadowed a few professionals but hadn’t found a great fit. I had a lot of questions, which were centered around equity – primarily why some people have so much and why others don’t.

Those words appear in Tracy Kidder’s book, “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World”. A medical anthropologist and physician, Farmer was a professor at Harvard University and served as the chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Farmer, who wrote extensively on health and human rights, was the co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health, an international non-profit that provides health care services and conducts research on behalf of those who live in poverty.

“We read a variety of books in the class, and my professor encouraged me to read ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains,’ as he thought I would find it valuable. I connected to the text in such a deep and meaningful way. I realized I wanted to follow a similar path to Dr. Farmer and do what I could to help uplift others, especially those in need.”

A decade later, Haq has found a career where she is dedicated to advancing health equity globally, especially for women. Haq leads the New York City Partnership’s health, education and research programs at the Arnhold Institute for Global Health at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. She’s even published a book of her own, “Taking Care of You: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Better Health,” written with Mary I. O’Connor, an orthopedic surgeon and professor emeritus at the Mayo Clinic.

“It’s really incredible to think that one book in one Honors class at Mizzou led me here,” Haq said. “I had so many incredible experiences at Mizzou, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without those experiences and without the people who guided me along the way. I never imagined this career path for myself or that I would be able to make an impact in this way. I 100 percent have Mizzou to thank for that.”

Along with her Honors Certificate, Haq also earned the Multicultural Certificate while at Mizzou.

“Some of my first classes were huge, so it was nice to have smaller courses through Honors,” Haq said. “I needed those smaller interactions where I got to really know my professors and peers. There were just so many unique offerings in Honors, too, and those classes allowed me to develop my critical thinking skills and grow in different ways. I really loved my Honors experience.”

To aid with advocacy, “Taking Care of You” women are leading 1 Million More Women, a grassroots movement focused on spreading awareness, providing education and building a community to support every women to better health.

Haq welcomes all women, between the ages of 18 and 100, to participate.

“Our goal is to hear from women about their health challenges and goals,” Haq said. “We are passionate about building a community of women who support each other. Right now, we’re focused on collecting stories.”

Haq added that she would love to hear from women at Mizzou. She said her time in Columbia was incredible and she’s so thankful that she made the decision to be a Tiger.

“Everyone at Mizzou was always so supportive, and I’m still in touch with several individuals at MU,” Haq said. “My time in Columbia was pivotal, and Mizzou became another home for me while I was there. It was amazing, and I’m so thankful for my many mentors who still guide and support me on this journey to leave the world a little bit better than we found it.”

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