Mariam Atobiloye: Reaching Beyond Material Things

Mariam Atobiloye is an eighteen-year-old from the north central part of Nigeria. She is a sophomore majoring in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Mississippi. She hopes to go to medical school someday. She likes to listen to old music and likes things people her age do not usually like. She says “you can call me an old soul in a young body. I am very passionate about helping my country grow to become better than what it currently is and I strongly believe that we the youth are the future.”

This story is part of “Muslims of America”, a photo series created by Carlos Khalil Guzman, a photographer and activist currently based in NYC. The project is dedicated to capturing the diversity of the Muslim community in the United States.

Are there any funny stories that your family tells about you that come to mind?
When I was younger, I used to love to try new things a lot. There was a day that my family and I were getting breakfast at this restaurant. I then decided not to get the usual pancakes or bread and tea and I saw something on the menu that said “egg royale” so I picked this all in the name of trying something new. At first, I tried to pretend it was okay. Let’s just say I did not have the last laugh that day and was hungry for a while. My family still laughs about it till this day.

When in life have you felt most alone?
I am a family oriented person. Maybe it is because I never went to a boarding school and I have never left home for more than three days, or maybe it is because I experienced the death of my father at a young age so I try to keep everyone near me because unexpected things can happen, but I love to be close to my family and closest friends. I felt absolutely lonely during the winter break of my freshman year. I knew I wasn’t going home that holiday, and the majority of the new friends I had just made in school – whom I called my school family, –  also went away for the holiday. It was an extremely lonely moment for me. Being miles and oceans away from home is not an easy thing.

How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a Muslim woman who held her religion in high regard, worked hard believing she would achieve greatness despite her circumstances and always touched the lives of those around her in whatever little way she could. To me, being in the world without making an impact on at least one person, is like living a life without a purpose. Money and riches can make you famous, but a good name lives way longer than those material things.

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