Dr Waleed Malik, a Pakistani academic gold medallist
Dr Waleed Malik, a Pakistani academic gold medallist Image Credit: Supplied

Waleed Malik is twenty-four, a doctor and recipient of twenty-nine medals, twenty-seven of which are gold. Young Malik’s academic achievements are so spectacular, they deserve their own special pedestal.

When I read a tweet about Dr Mohammed Waleed Malik’s gold medals, my instant response was that of so many of my compatriots—WOW! A list of awards that was so long it was almost unreal. At the age of twenty-three, after completion of the five-year medical course at Ameer-ud-Din Medical College, Lahore, Malik topped the MBBS final year examination in Pakistan. At the time when most news appearing on social media amplify the doom and gloom shadowing Pakistan, the image of Dr Waleed Malik wearing his twenty-nine medals is the much-needed ray of hope, promise, positivity, determination, and success.

Youngest of six siblings, Malik grew up in the protection of parents—father a chartered accountant, now retired; mother, homemaker—who loved their children and guided them to be the best version of themselves. Focus on education is the invaluable lesson of his parents to all their children.

Malik topped in Hifz-e-Quran at the Jamia Ashrafia, Lahore at just was thirteen years old. Memorizing the whole of the Holy Quran is a process that requires years of patience and complete dedication. Malik, along with his worldly education, learned the Quran by heart in one and a half years.

For this interview, my big thank you to Dr Usama Afzal, Dr Malik’s best friend and now a colleague, and who describes their friendship in words that are truly moving: “We have always supported one another, we have always been there for the other’s ups and downs, we rejoice in each other’s happiness. I’m so proud of his achievements as if they are my own.”

For Gulf News, I asked Dr Mohammed Waleed Malik a few questions:

Mehr Tarar: Your academic record in your medical school is simply outstanding. What is the story of your single-minded interest in studies?

Dr Waleed Malik: Our parents were very particular about our [Waleed and siblings] education. From the time we started school, they made a schedule for our studies that we followed with utmost attention. When you look at your parents doing so much for your wellbeing, you strive, with your heart and soul, to give them your best. I always worked hard and used to get first position in every class.

The main reason for my single-mindedness on my studies was my parents’ constant attention to our education as their top priority. It was, therefore, my responsibility that I respected their efforts and remained fully focused.

Being the youngest child, I have always had abundant love of my family. My siblings have always pampered me. My older brother financially helped me for my education. All my siblings have always done their best to support my academic goals.

My relationship with my parents is friendly, supportive. They love me very much and have always encouraged me. Understanding my reluctance to socialize because of my academic obligations when I was in school, they used to never force me to attend family gatherings or other functions.

Behind every successful person there is a teacher. The role a good teacher plays in your life is important on so many levels. Fortunately, many of my teachers motivated and supported me throughout my academic journey. They are all so happy for me and have congratulated me. I pray that Allah keep them happy and focused, and our nation is blessed with brilliant students.

How do you maintain the balance of your love for knowledge and your pursuit of excellence?

My love for knowledge propels me to excellence. My complete devotion to my pursuit of knowledge has resulted in Allah blessing me with attainment of excellence. Our religion also teaches us to be seekers of knowledge. When you become a seeker of knowledge and fully commit to it, Allah blesses you with so much. As a Pakistani, I learned from Allama Iqbal that we should commit ourselves to quest of knowledge and aim for high achievements.

Do you ever get tired of studying? What are the things that make you happy?

Studying was something I liked even in my childhood. When you give so many years to one aspect of your life, it becomes a habit. That habit coupled with my passion for knowledge conditioned me to study for twelve-fourteen hours without any difficulty. Sometimes, I didn’t even mind the sacrifice of my sleep. The aim was understanding and attaining knowledge to the best of my abilities.

Seeing my parents so happy is a source of great happiness to me.

Whenever I hang out with my friends—unfortunately, that didn’t happen very often as I loved my studies, and I frequently ditched my friends—I have a great time. Their happiness at seeing me doubles my joy. The way they used to support me, still do, and I hope will continue to do, was and is something that makes me happy.

I like sports, especially cricket; I play cricket with my friends. I also like table tennis and football. Whenever I have time, I try to watch movies and TV shows.

I’m an introvert. I like my personal space, my solitude.

What is your message to the young of Pakistan?

My message to young people is they should respect their parents, their teachers, their elders. Young people should set their goals, accept those goals with their hearts and minds, and not accept anything that is enforced upon them. Once they have set their goals, they should remain steadfast and not panic. If they work hard, Allah will bless them with strength to overcome all their difficulties. Whatever they do, they should give it their full attention and honesty. If we are honest to ourselves and our work, Allah blesses our efforts.