Naim Shaqqou, a BHC Scholar and computer science/biomedical sciences double major, has a passion for helping others. He has been an active member of the community, volunteering his time with the UCF Arboretum, OrlandoAgainstCorona, Orange County Government and SALT Outreach, and has mentored international students through the Paper Airplanes program. Naim is a Type 1 diabetic, and upon graduation at UCF, he plans to attend UCF’s medical school in hopes of helping other diabetics as a future endocrinologist.

What are the top experiences you have had so far while at UCF? What did you learn from them - how do you think they helped you get where you are today?

The onset of COVID-19 in Central Florida was a great challenge for everyone due to the halt of on-campus operations, including organizations, and the shift to online learning. [That’s why I volunteered with an] organization called OrlandoAgainstCorona. As a young member of our community, I felt like I had a responsibility to volunteer alongside them to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases, as well as help ease the burden for the rest of the community.

During the same time, I had the privilege to volunteer as a peer mentor for Paper Airplanes. As a peer mentor, I was responsible for providing guidance and tutoring services to individuals who were affected by international conflicts. Although the responsibilities that came with the position were overwhelming, they have challenged me to further develop my leadership skills. It has given me the great pleasure of creating meaningful relationships with fellow students abroad.

I had the honor [of] volunteering alongside OCFL (Orange County Government) at their COVID-19 testing sites, [and] with SALT Outreach, an organization that helps provide the homeless population in Orlando with their most basic needs, including showers, food, and clothes. These experiences have helped me become a more productive member of our community and will always have a positive impact on my attitude towards helping those who are less fortunate.

I have also started a software engineering internship with CuddlyNest this summer [to help me] learn high-demand skills in computer science, [and] develop my ability to work individually and as a part of a team. I am excited to continue working with them throughout the rest of my college career.

What are your long-term goals? How is the BHC helping you to achieve these goals? 

After graduating from UCF with a degree in biomedical sciences and computer science, I plan to attend the UCF medical school to achieve my dream of becoming a physician. As a doctor, I hope to provide the best quality services to my patients. Considering the fact that I am a Type 1 diabetic, my dream is to be in a position that allows me to treat and guide other Type 1 diabetics to ensure that they are able to live fulfilling lives and are able to achieve all of their goals.

As a Burnett Honors Scholar, I have had the privilege to meet and connect with some of the most amazing students and staff. During my time at BHC, I have discovered that the most valuable part of any experience is the people one gets to meet. Having these meaningful relationships with people opens doors to a limitless number of opportunities. The BHC constantly encourages its students to improve themselves in every aspect. As a member of the BHC, I have been pushed to improve my leadership skills and my involvement within the community. I will continue to utilize the resources the BHC has provided me to become the best version of myself.

If all things go right, 10 years from now I will most likely be…

…[an] endocrinologist.

What advice do you have for other students who may want to follow a similar path?

Seize every opportunity that is presented to you. Through these opportunities, you will discover your dream and your passion. Throughout your journey, actively remind yourself of your goals and dreams, and never lose sight of why you started your journey.

What is your favorite hobby?

My top hobby is working out. It has many physical and mental benefits. By going to the gym almost daily, I am ensuring that I stay healthy for years to come. Sticking to a routine has helped me develop discipline, which is a valuable skill to have in many situations. Going to the gym is also a great way to deal with the stresses of life.