Rabia Y. Simjee Memorial Scholarship

Rabia Y. Simjee Memorial Scholarship

Dear Rabia Y. Simjee Memorial Scholar:

This is the background on my mother, Rabia Y. Simjee, whose legacy is the reason for the scholarship you are being awarded.

Rabia was born in Surat, India, in April 1934. The oldest of four children, she understood the value of family life as well as education. A bright student, she was a delight of all her teachers as she excelled in all subjects; she hoped to study law one day. However, the traditions of the society at the time were unfavorable for women pursuing higher education. As a result, she could not continue beyond elementary school.

Upon marrying my father in 1954 in Burma, they began a new life together and raised seven children: four girls and three boys. While moving through four countries, my mother dedicated her life to the well-being of her family. She spent long days doing housework, cooking, and cleaning, while ensuring the children, boys as well as girls, excelled academically. She instilled in us the drive to focus on education with a passion, aim high and secure professional degrees. My mother dreamed our dreams and encouraged us every step of the way, refusing to be dissuaded by even the most difficult of circumstances, of which there were quite a few. Her quiet bearing, love and dedication for her family, kind heart and fortitude were exemplary.

She arrived in the United States in 1981, sponsored by her sister, Aisha Simjee, M.D., an ophthalmologist (Aisha’s success, in part, is attributed to my mother’s sacrifices and fierce support of her sister’s educational dreams). My siblings and I gradually followed. In our new country, we continued our education: the two oldest completed their medical residencies, two other siblings achieved MBA degrees (with one of them adding to her professional credentials by obtaining CPA and CFA certifications), while the two youngest became dentists. The 7th sibling excelled in computers. My mother was humbly proud of our accomplishments. When we lost my youngest sister, Nasima Simjee, an equity analyst, in the World Trade Center attacks of September 11th, my mother was devastated. On the 5th anniversary of that day, she passed away.

With Fresno being my adopted home and a place that has warmly embraced me, I am honoring my mother with a scholarship in her name as her love simultaneously anchored me and launched me into the wonderful world of medicine.

My mother did not have the opportunity to pursue higher education, but was a firm believer in it. She would longingly speak of her unfulfilled dream of being a judge. She was as an avid reader with a creative mind, and an advocate of women’s health issues. If circumstances would have so allowed, she would have been an excellent judge, fighting for women’s rights and family values. She was a strong believer that no student with love of learning should be denied the opportunity to pursue education, regardless of gender.

This scholarship is my way of revering my mother’s memory by enabling an enthusiastic knowledge seeker to attend college. I believe that in helping you, the scholarship recipient, I am fulfilling my mother’s dream of higher education. The legacy of my mother’s life is carried on through this scholarship.

Congratulations on receiving the Rabia Y. Simjee Memorial Scholarship; I wish you all the best in your studies and success in your life. And, I hope, you can help me perpetuate my mother’s legacy by, in turn, helping others in whatever way you can.

Salma Simjee, M.D.