Shazia Shariff is a U3 Management student majoring in international management with a minor in political science.She exudes positive energy wherever she goes, and is determined to project her joie de vivre on whomever she crosses paths with. Shariff grew up in Kenya, and has, from a young age, been intrigued by the politics of her country. As such, she is conscious of the disparities and conflicts in Kenya, which has resulted in an empathetic approach to interacting with those around her.
Shazia was raised by nannies in a small town in the Western province of Kenya, growing up listening intently as they would tell her about the obstacles they faced on a day-to-day basis. Their problems included a lack of money for education for their children, and deaths in their families due to curable diseases like pneumonia. As a result of her rapport with her nannies, Shazia became inspired to actively work against poverty and towards her vision of a fairer future.
“[Through this experience, I learned] the value of community, the beauty of living with less, and the happiness that lies in simplicity,” Shazia said.
“I hope for a world where resource mobilization—both intellectual and material—is high,” she continued. “Living in a world where the burgeoning gap between the rich and poor is now a global threat, I imagine a need for a transformation of our needs-resources-consumption model, globally.”
After finishing an internship at the Africa Centre for Open Governance in Nairobi, Kenya, Shazia was made aware of the anti-corruption movement in Africa. One aspect that struck her was the many paradoxes that plague Africa and its governments.
“In [Africa], we have so many leaders, yet so little leadership,” Shazia said.
She believes there is a desperate need for change and introspection amongst the African population—in particular amongst African elite. According to Shazia, problems like tribalism and racism are not due to clashes of civilizations, but to ignorance and a lack of desire to change.
“The historical injustices that have bloated our minds and hearts for decades aren’t allowing us to focus on addressing what matters,” Shazia said.
However, her message is not one of criticism, but of hope. Shazia believes in the success of the Kenyan population; she is sure that the nation’s collective culture, hospitality, and hard work ethics will lead Kenya to a more stable government.
In relation to the McGill community, Shazia can’t help but see flaws in the lack of collaboration within faculties. She does not agree with the competitive nature of Canadian society, and has tried to solve this by promoting multi-disciplinary thinking and inter-faculty collaboration at McGill.
“[I am currently] hoping to start a platform called LINK, which focuses on enhancing student collaboration and inter-disciplinary events,” Shazia said. “Honesty is fashionable, hard work is sexy, creativity is fulfilling, and critical thinking, essential.”
McGill Tribune: Best place on earth?
Shazia Shariff: Streets of Bungoma, Kenya
MT: Favorite food?
SS: Nyama choma (BBQ meat), Ugali (dough made of maize flour) and sukuma (spinach) with some chili tomatoes!
MT: Which celebrity or historical figure would you like to meet?
SS: Will Smith or the Dalai Lama
MT: What TV series would you like to star in?
SS: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
MT: Any hidden talents?