An achiever's diary: Hiba Zia Hashmi

To say that 12th grader Hiba Zia Hashmi is an "accomplished student" would be an understatement. This young achiever has striven for the best and continues to have big dreams. She has excelled not only in academia at her school Emirates International, but has been actively involved in initiatives that tackle humanitarian and global issues.

Her most recent endeavours include a filmmaking workshop as part of a Unicef initiative to portray the lives of underprivileged children and the elderly, as well as participating in an Emirates Environmental Group debate. Notes went one-on-one with this talented young student.

What keeps her wheels turning

Hiba's greatest inspiration comes from her two older brothers. One a doctor and the other studying business management in the UK, Hiba says that their achievements have "set high expectations".

"My brothers' accomplishments have set high standards," she said. After a second's pause, she corrected herself: "Well not so much 'set,' but more 'assumed' by me. I want to be able to reach their success."

With aspirations to follow in her brothers' footsteps, Hiba says she's still undecided whether to pursue a degree in medicine or business. "I knew it was going to be one of the two from when I was a child," she said.

Hiba modestly added that her own past achievements set expectations for future successes. "If I topped the class the previous year, I'm automatically expected to do the same or even better the following years," she said.

When she's feeling low or out of that "oomph" feeling that keeps her going, Hiba says that watching others, particularly rivals or competitors, move forward gives her the urge to go even further.

It's about self-confidence

"Believing in yourself" is what Hiba says is the key to making it through life's most difficult challenges, both academic and otherwise. Having a mentor also helps, she added. "You have to believe that you can succeed," she said. "Take advice from your parents, elders or friends. And most importantly, maintain a balance in everything you do."

Time management is yet another important factor Hiba considers when scheduling her day. "Limit your work to a certain number of hours," she said. "Don't go overboard. Take a couple of hours for yourself to help you de-stress."

The 'whole' person

Throughout the interview, Hiba emphasised the importance of being a complete person. She asserted that gaining experience outside textbooks and the inside reality is what gives a person greater substance as an individual.

"Your studies are very important but it's also essential that you develop as a whole person," she said. "This is because universities don't only look at what you do academically, but what you've done as a whole. And even more importantly, in real life you're going to meet all kinds of people – and it's that ability to have positive human interaction that counts, and it's what a lot of jobs look for. And that's why only when you've developed as a whole person can you truly say you've reached excellence."

Get to know her ...

All-around achiever Hiba Zia Hashmi from Emirates International School has paved a path to success. These are only some of her recent achievements:

  • Hiba has won the Academic Honours Award for two consecutive years (2007 and 2008) after sitting for the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Examinations).
  • She has earned straight As (eight in total) in all mandatory subjects.
  • Hiba has secured a position in the Top Ten Worldwide Students in the subjects of business studies and economics.
  • She has also received separate commendation letters for both subjects (business and economics) from Ross Hall, director of Edexcel International.