Yemen, Pakistan, Germany - Hazim Saleem, a student at Constructor University in Bremen, had to adjust to new living conditions many times. However, there is one thing that remains constant: his love for chemistry. Now, Hazim has received the prestigious scholarship of the August Wilhelm von Hofmann Foundation of the German Chemical Society. He was also accepted for the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at New York University within the same week.
“He is one of the best students I have ever taught,” claimed Ulrich Kortz, Professor of Chemistry about Hazim Saleem. The 20-year-old is in his second year at Constructor University, and studies Chemistry and Biotechnology with a minor in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. After arriving on campus and working with Professors like Kortz, Hazim was sure he made the right choice with the setting at Constructor University. “I feel more comfortable in small class groups like there are here. The possibility of developing a close relationship with the professors was one reason I applied to Constructor University. Their support over the years has just been amazing. They genuinely care about you, are interested in your development and want to see you succeed. I would never have gotten this far without them and the belief they had in me," said Hazim.
The fact that Hazim would one day study in Bremen, receive support from the German Chemical Society and continue his education at New York University was not something he considered when he was younger. He spent much of his childhood in the civil war-torn country of Yemen, where his father taught Physics at a school. When the war escalated, his family left the country over night. Having left all their possessions behind, the family had to start over in their home country of Pakistan.
“Giving your best regardless of the outcome, and pursuing every interest with a passion – that is how life should be,” Hazim feels. “At least then I can say that I tried.” This attitude also shaped his school years in Pakistan. There, he deepened his passion for natural sciences, especially Chemistry. He represented his country at the 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad, a competition for high school students. It was then that he also began to consider a career in Chemistry. “Whether in Industrial Chemistry or in combination with Biotechnology, the subject offers so many opportunities,” he enthuses.
A friend's recommendation eventually led him to Bremen and hence to Constructor University, where his studies are supported with a merit-based scholarship. Hazim is the oldest of three siblings and the first person in his family to obtain a degree abroad. The first semester in a foreign environment, however, was not easy for him. Hazim is rather initially reserved when in contact with others: "In new situations, it always takes some time for my self-confidence to build up," he says.
In the meantime, however, he adapted well. Quoting his favorite song by The Talking Heads, “This Must Be The Place”, Hazim says he feels at home at the private, English-language Constructor University. This also shows in the fact that he was appointed as president of the student-run Society of Natural Sciences. They, not only organize workshops on a wide range of topics, but also invite scientists to lectures and discussions, and undertake educational trips, for example to Amsterdam and Berlin. "I love this role! It’s a privilege bringing ideas to life and, above all, getting to know people and sharing my life with them," said Hazim, who describes himself as a rather sentimental person. He also accredits the friends he’s made throughout his life and at university as being one of the primary reasons he is as committed as he is. During his university life, he has also managed to pursue his interest as an event manager. He was the recent final event coordinator for the annual student organized startup competition Young Entrepreneurs Summit (YES).
And then there's his studies. A remarkable GPA is a given in his case, but he also supports Chemistry Professor Ulrich Kortz as a Research Assistant. He has been active as a Teaching Assistant in several courses such as General and Advanced Inorganic Chemistry and Introduction to Biotechnology. However, he cites his stint as a Cognitive Psychology teaching assistant to have been the most memorable. “That I get to do this in a discipline which I didn't particularly choose is not only a great learning experience but also a testament to the chances you’ll get here," Hazim thinks of his time in the role.
Where does it all lead? Well, first to New York, that much is certain. Next year, Hazim Saleem will complete his bachelor's degree. He doesn't know what will happen after that. It's quite possible that he'll stay in Germany; he likes it here. But, wherever he goes, one thing will continue to be true: Hazim will wear his heart on his sleeve and give it his all in every moment. After all, that's what matters to him.
This text is part of the "Faces" series, in which Constructor University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff.
About Constructor University:
An international community, vibrant and diverse. Offering academic excellence, ensuring the highest standards in research and teaching. Empowering students to solve the world's pressing challenges through knowledge and science: Constructor University is a top-ranked, English-speaking, private university. Founded in 2001, it provides a wide range of 25+ academic programs and PhD. The Constructor ecosystem comprises the University, located in Bremen, Germany, and an institute in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
Over 1.800 students from more than 110 nations on campus benefit from a unique interdisciplinary, foundational theoretical and practical education. Enriched with a buzzing entrepreneurial culture that prepares young professionals to thrive in the job market. With 6.000+ alumni worldwide, our community keeps growing – with our highest cohort ever registered in 2022.
The research-centric faculty projects are funded by the German Research Foundation and the European Union's Framework Program for Research and Innovation as well as by globally leading companies.
The Constructor ecosystem benefits from partnerships with high-ranked universities such as Carnegie Mellon, the University of Geneva or the National University of Singapore School of Computing, and technology companies such as Anisoprint, JetBrains and ChemDiv.
Constructor is a global institution dedicated to addressing the main challenges of the world through science, education, and technology. Apart from the University in Bremen, the ecosystem comprises an Institute in Schaffhausen (Switzerland) and several for-profit entities that provide technology infrastructures and solutions, life-long education programs, consulting services, and funding.