KU graduate continuing on to medical school is also a poet, advice columnist
photo by: Haajra Sirhindi
At the end of high school, Aroog Khaliq had the option of going straight into an accelerated medical school program or first attending a four-year university.
The high school senior was pretty sure she wanted to be a doctor, but she also wanted to study a variety of subjects and take advantage of the experiences a traditional four-year undergraduate institution offers.
So Khaliq went to the University of Kansas, where she did just that.
Khaliq studied Jane Austen and nuclear chemistry. She was a member of the Muslim Student Association and served as executive director of the Center for Community Outreach. Her senior thesis was an anthology of her original poetry.
On Sunday, Khaliq will graduate from KU with majors in English and psychology. And then, just months later, she will start her medical school journey at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
“Looking back on it, I’m so, so thankful that I came here and I had all the experiences that I did and I met all the people that I did,” she said. “It’s hard to say goodbye right now because I love so much of what I accomplished here and the people that I got to spend time with.”
photo by: Aspen Grender
While at KU, Khaliq wrote for the student newspaper, served on the KU Common Book Committee and was a Chancellors Club, humanities and university scholar, among other accomplishments.
At the student newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, she worked as an opinion columnist, opinion editor and arts columnist. During her junior year, she wrote an advice column called “Ask Aroog.”
In September 2019, a reader asked her if there was a slope equation for love.
“It saddens me to admit there is no point-slope form when it comes to the complexities of love, but don’t we obsess over love because it contains more multitudes than math alone can tame?” she wrote. “The bad news is I can only offer you the three variables in this equation that I am familiar with: understanding, caring and communicating. The good news is you have your whole life ahead of you to find the others.”
Khaliq strove to write with literary style while still conforming to journalistic standards, she said. She was surprised by the number of letters she received.
When asked what she learned about herself in college, Khaliq said she discovered she had a lot to say, and that what she had to say was valuable.
photo by: Contributed Photo
Her senior year, she gave a TEDxKU talk in which she discussed the way poetry is taught in schools — something she said she wouldn’t have been able to do without the experience she received working as a seminar assistant in Mary Klayder’s honors seminar class. Klayder is the associate director of undergraduate studies for the English Department. As a seminar assistant in Klayder’s class, Khaliq taught a three-week poetry unit.
“I think getting to see students from engineering backgrounds or computer science backgrounds really flex their creative muscle and have a space — one hour every week — to just write, to just think about creative writing and self-expression, I think that was one of the most valuable things I got to do,” Khaliq said.
Klayder said Khaliq was “incredible” at helping the first-years feel confident and find their voices. She also called Khaliq “one of those classic, all-around students.”
“She’s interested in everything. She’s just curious. She did as well in chemistry class as she did in psych as she did in English,” Klayder said.
Khaliq is one of two recipients of KU’s 1913 Awards, which go to graduating students who display intelligence, devotion to their studies, personal character and promise of usefulness to society. She also received the Brosseau Creativity Award — which recognizes undergraduates who display outstanding creativity and originality — for her English Honors thesis, an anthology of poems rooted in the theme of exploring the subconscious.
After medical school, Khaliq said she is interested in pursuing gynecology or cardiology, and that she hopes to one day work as a professor part-time while practicing medicine. While at KU, Khaliq was inspired by her time spent volunteering in Kansas City, Kan. with JayDoc, a free clinic run by the KU Medical Center.
“Regardless of if I’m affiliated with a hospital or a private practice or something like that, I want to make sure that I’m taking some time to work with really low-income communities and marginalized communities,” she said.
Although COVID-19 interrupted her junior and senior years, Khaliq said she’s “so glad” she had two and a half years of a typical college experience — “It makes them sweeter, almost.”
She said she would advise new KU students to get involved as much as possible and get to know the people who make KU special.
“It would be such a shame to go four years and not explore all of the things that are here, whether they are related to your major or they’re totally unrelated — there’s so much to do,” she said.