When one meets Alaleh Azhir, a Rhodes Scholar and Goldwater Scholar who graduated from Hopkins in 2019 with a perfect GPA, the word “rebel” may not immediately spring to mind. But Azhir’s refusal to accept the barriers imposed on her has played a critical role in her path to success—and she wears the mantle of rebel proudly.
A current medical student at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences Technology program, Azhir questions the systems in place around her through research that aims to improve care for women from a chromosomal perspective: “Medicine currently takes very much of a unisex approach to many diseases that present differently with different frequencies in men versus women, such as heart attacks,” Azhir writes. “My goal through my research is to criticize this view and delve deeper into the effects of the sex chromosomes and separate those effects from those of the sex hormones.”
Azhir learned at an early age not to be content with the roles society had prescribed for her. Moving to the United States from Iran as a teenager, she recalls how teachers mistook her difficulty with English as a lack of foundational knowledge, which made her even more determined to succeed. Enrolling in five additional online courses, she became an AP student and the captain of the math team within a year. As a triple major in biomedical engineering, computer science, and applied mathematics and statistics at Johns Hopkins, she graduated with a 4.0, earning an A+ in more than 30 courses.
“I think I always to some extent remained rebellious and determined to prove people wrong,” Azhir wrote in a message to the Hub. “Countless times, I was told that I can’t triple major or take seven AP classes in a year or take 24 credits in a semester, but I did them anyway… I do enjoy learning very much.”