Khadija Hosseini

‘Sky’s the limit’ for UTM grad who counts family as key to her success

Kristy Strauss

When Khadija Hosseini crosses the stage to receive her university degree this week at convocation, there will be many thoughts going through her mind: feelings of excitement, nervousness, relief – but also gratitude towards her family whose constant support carried her to the end of this journey.

“My family has been really, really flexible and supportive of me,” says Hosseini, who is receiving her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from UTM. “I am really thankful that I have a very understanding family . . . they were always there, and they were amazing.”

Originally from Afghanistan, Hosseini and her family also lived in Iran and the United States before settling in Hamilton when she was in Grade 11.

Her friends were choosing to study closer to home, but while researching schools, U of T immediately appealed to her.

“I really liked the community of U of T,” she says, adding that the Mississauga campus particularly caught her eye. “I applied to UTM because I thought it was kind of neat how there’s literally a pond in the middle of the university. It looked like a great place to be.”

But the commute wasn’t easy. For her first two years at UTM, she traveled four hours a day by bus from her parent’s Hamilton home to the university campus.

When the weather was bad in the winter, her father stepped in to help. Hosseini remembers that he would drive her in on snowy days, and wait on campus for her to be finished her classes.

“He would literally just come with me,” she says. “If he didn't have anything scheduled during those days, he would just go hang out in a library close by. And then we would just leave after I was done.”

While pursuing her studies, Hosseini also worked part-time as a cashier on weekends and began to get involved in many student clubs. In her third year, she joined the Innovative Business Association (IBA) and in her fourth year, she joined the Afghan Students Association – which was a particularly meaningful experience for her.

“(Being) from Afghanistan, I always wanted to be involved and still be connected to the culture,” Hosseini says. “(When the) Taliban came back and took over Afghanistan, that was a really rough time for Afghans all over the world.” It was 2021 and Hosseini’s fourth year of university. “I thought – maybe I can join this club and see what we can do for the little community that we have at UTM. There was a lot of emotional aspects to it.”

Khadija Hosseini
Khadija Hosseini, who is originally from Afghanistan, joined the UTM Afghan Students Association in her final year. (Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

From second through fourth years, Hosseini earned a spot in the Department of Management Director’s Circle by completing a requisite number of activities in the professional skills development program. She served as a Career Assistant at the UTM Career Centre and was later promoted to Associate Lead Career Assistant. She also received a COVID-19 Student Engagement Award as part of a U of T Global group project researching and reporting on the global impacts of COVID-19.

“I’ve always been really active. Even in high school, I was in many clubs,” she says. “I just think the aspect of community and community building is really important.”

After juggling her studies with a weekend job and co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, Hosseini’s advice to future UTM students would be to lean on friends and family and practice self-care.

Now that she is graduating, she hopes to work for a few years in the banking or technology sector and plans to eventually earn her MBA.

“It’s very exciting and kind of nerve-wracking,” she says. “The sky’s the limit.”