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Najma Khan, a South Asian woman was a celebrity in her own way. She was one of those who challenged the status quo and rose above the norms of her times and proved that to be successful, it doesn’t matter what your gender, cast or creed, but just pure focus and determination.
She one of the first female physicians and part of the first wave of immigrants from Asia to the US in 1967, passed away on June 15.
Born in Hyderabad, India, in 1931, she was an ethical humanitarian, a soul who wore her doctor’s dress with purpose, served thousands, and influenced even more.
Khan was the second of eleven children in her family. Since her childhood, she had a strong sense of purpose and was inspired to do great things against all the odds.
Initially, she was unable to attend school due to cultural norms for girls at that time, but she was able to convince her father but had to start her first grade at the age of 9. She quickly picked up English, worked hard, and skipped multiple classes each year. Eventually, she graduated high school early at the age of 15.
During those times, it wasn’t normal for a 15-year-old girl to seek higher education. They are prepped for marriage, especially given her Muslim background. But her destiny was not to be that of any normal Muslim girl.
She wanted to become a doctor. A girl wanting to study for a doctor was unheard of during that era. But with support of her father, she enrolled in a Medical Educational institution in the prestigious Osmania University. She finished a specialized residency & got the educational institution’s 1st OB-GYN diploma, one such quite a few award in all of India in 1957.
Within the late 1950s, 3 of her dynamic brothers pursued a degree in US, UK, & Canada. A humanitarian in heart, Khan & the other doctor friend & a pharmacist, set up a free medical clinic to service humanity.
Her son, Sayeed Khan, recalled stories they heard while growing up. “Our relatives would tell us regarding ‘lines across the stop’ of India’s miserable awaiting to watch her for medical care. For her, being a doctor has been mainly a way to service humanity.”
Najma Khan wedded in 1961. Back in America, somewhere around that time, there was a sea of change happening in the name of racial equality, which led to new chapter in the world’s history and in Najma Khan life. America embarked upon a fundamental alter in foreign policy when the landmark “US Immigration Act of 1965” has been moved to address a shortage of doctors & engineers.
Najma & her spouse, a chemical engineer, were part of the 1st wave of the “Asian Brain Drain” when immigrating to the US in 1967. As her husband pursued his own Ph.D., she studied for her medical board examinations in a university campus on the East Coast, simultaneously raising her 3 young children.
Khan, got an offer for a medical residency in Chicago in 1970, & shortly, the young family (4) made the windy city their own new house.
As a physician, she performed for the city & had a private practice. She provided the most underserved neighborhoods in Chicago & her growing Muslim society of Chicago over 4 decades. Najma & her spouse have been pillars of the society, & her family (4) has been an integral part of Chicago’s Muslim Society Centre (MCC) throughout its early yrs., according to Muslim Observer.
Personal life has been challenging for new immigrants with virtually no family (4), society, (or) help system. It got (1) tougher when Najma has been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972. She underwent successful surgery & medication, however, the diagnosis continued for 5 years. Turning those 5 yrs. into 50, Khan lived each day to full extent awhile contributing establish numerous relatives in both India & America.
Her eldest son, Hassan, a greatly respected physician who ran a medical center, moved far away before his own mom in Jun 2019. Dr. Najma Khan passed away peacefully in her house on Jun 15. She has been 88.
Dr. Najma Khan’s wisdom, kindness, unquestionable ethics, great ambition and her humanitarian measures made her the soul everybody loved and trusted. She will remain an inspiration for many as she been throughout her life.