“Like many kids, I was asked what I would like to be when I grew up,” Afifah Abdul Rahim, fifth semester RUSVM student says. “For 16 years, I did not know what the answer was. However, there was a tiny voice in my head that constantly whispered ‘I want to make a difference.’”
And after rescuing a Rottweiler named Kiya on the side of the road in her native Singapore, Afifah had an epiphany, and knew veterinary medicine would be in her future.
“Kiya was my epiphany. She made me realize that caring and improving animal health and welfare is what provides me the greatest adrenaline rush and sense of gratification. I want to make a difference, one animal at a time,” she says.
Afifah graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Iowa State University (ISU). During her time at ISU, she was a research assistant for a feline and canine colony, and at the Seed Science Center, volunteered at the Wildlife Care Clinic at ISU and job-shadowed at a private veterinary practice. Over summer and winter holidays, she studied abroad in Denmark, Poland, Germany and Thailand to learn more about agriculture and animal welfare.
“At Iowa State I was surrounded by inspiring student leaders who were tenaciously striving to make an impact on the university, the community, and the world. The culture of positivity and deep desire to make a difference was profoundly infectious.”
So infectious, that by the end of her undergraduate career, Afifah received 10 awards including Women Impacting ISU 2014, Outstanding Challenger Award 2014, and Outstanding Student Representative 2013 and 2014.
She then took that undergraduate inspiration, and desire to make a difference, and brought it with her to St. Kitts and RUSVM.
“I have a lot of interest in things that are considered very basic, such as spay and neuter programs and animal population control, which can have far-reaching effects, especially in impoverished nations,” Afifah says. “I would like to practice clinical medicine, but I hope to work at a place that will allow me to also work with Veterinarians Without Borders, or World Vets, so I can help nations in need.”
But before setting out into the world of veterinary medicine, Afifah has been working on making a difference at RUSVM. As former president of the Student Chapter of American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA), Afifah worked as a bridge between the students and staff with the intent to offer new initiatives, improve existing policies, and enhance the on-campus experience of students at RUSVM.
“I feel an innate desire to make a difference wherever I go, and my motivation behind taking up presidency was primarily based on the belief that I need to actively help in advancing student experience in RUSVM,” she says. “This leadership role made me look at every existing issue through multi-faceted lens and challenged me to think of solutions that would benefit as many parties involved.”
Being able to help her fellow Rossies succeed also brings her great joy, she adds, and looks forward to a bright future for the new student government leaders, and RUSVM.
“I take great pride in watching the growing number of students who strive to go above and beyond in their respective passion as a result of the culture of empowerment,” Afifah says. “As RUSVM students, our experiences will last us a lifetime, and no other university students will have the same unique experiences as Rossies do.”