- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2018
- Hometown: Round Rock, TX
- School Year: Junior
- Major: Chemistry
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello! My name is Hadiqa, and I'm a third year studying Chemistry at the best university in the world. Some of my favorite hobbies are traveling, running, hiking, and painting.
I hail from Round Rock, Texas, but I spent my childhood in the beautiful Bay Area in Oakland, California. I grew up there with my parents, older brother, grandma, uncle, aunt, and my little sister and cousin were born there! Needless to say, it was a full house, and I was never bored. My brother and I were given a lot of autonomy to explore to our heart's content, and we loved going around the streets and parks in our neighborhood, making up scenarios and creating our own worlds to spend time in. I think some of my most defining personality traits originate from the curiosity that was fueled from that independence. With an abundance of family, our home there taught me all about the importance of comedy, compromise, celebration, and forgiveness.
In 2008 my parents, siblings and I drove halfway across the country to move to Round Rock (RR donuts, anyone?), and there I formed friendships with some of the most amazing people in the world. I value them incredibly; they've made me who I am today.
After coming to UT, I've learned an unbelievable amount academically and socially, and I am blessed to be able to call this campus home. I have had quite literally the best time of my life these past couple of years, and I'm so excited that now I get to be a part of Texas 4000.
Why I Ride
I never really figured that the fight against cancer would become such a powerful driving force in my life. However, a few key events have made it so. In 2013 I found out that my aunt was battling breast cancer, and that winter we flew back to Oakland to see her and the rest of our family. Until then I had only heard of efforts to raise cancer awareness and money for research, without giving much thought to the impact it has on everyone who struggles with it. Listening to the story of my aunt’s battle put my struggles into perspective and was incredibly awe-inspiring. It caused me to shift my approach to life, and with her as a role model I found fortitude in the overcoming of adversity.
The summer of 2016, one of my best friends, Cassidy, passed away. Cassidy was my best friend through some of my most defining phases of life, and I could talk to her about anything because we were always on the same wavelength. We planned our class schedules together, shared music, food, and loved watching scary movies. Plus, she always laughed at my jokes. She had the best laugh, and I admired her for her personality and confidence that radiated without her even having to speak. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her. The degree of grief I felt then was novel to me, but I learned more in those few weeks about the importance of empathy than ever before.
As I spent time with Cassidy's family throughout the summer, I learned of her cousin Andrés in Panama who had lost his battle with a rare form of bone cancer in 2015. The hospitals where he lived were not equipped to treat his diagnosis, and his family had to move to Boston. A Japanese legend says that if a thousand paper cranes are made for someone, they will be granted one wish. Andrés' friends and family in Panama made one thousand paper cranes and flew them to his hospital in Boston to decorate his room. Family, friends, and friends of friends were helping from all over the world, sending their prayers and fundraising for his treatment. His cancer had spread from his knee to other regions of his body however, so they were unable to perform surgery. Andrés was a happy and loving boy, even through his long treatment, and everyone remembers him for his optimism. Hearing how the community there united to support his family was inspirational, and allowed me to draw parallels with the experience I was having then.
The sudden loss of a loved one is earth-shattering, and is something those fighting the battle against cancer experience time and time again. For me, the collective empathy of so many people was a positive force in an overwhelmingly heartbreaking time. Similarly, I have no doubt the role of individual community is essential in the universal battle against cancer, as both a support system and a resource.
I express my solidarity because experiencing your own body battle itself is the pillar of helplessness, yet those who fight that exhibit the most noble and powerful traits I have ever encountered. I want to ride in 2018 for Cassidy and for Andrés, and their incredibly strong families. I want to ride for my aunt who battled breast cancer, and for the people affected by cancer in her life. I want to ride for everyone that has been touched by loss to show them that their loved ones leave a legacy to be spread to the farthest corners of the earth. I also want to ride to celebrate those who have come out of their personal battles victorious, because they deserve recognition for the strength they demonstrated. I ride for my friends and family, who have supported me for years and make my life delightful every day. Finally, I want to ride for my teammates because every day I grow closer to them and their stories, and together we're going to spread hope, knowledge and charity from here all the way to Alaska.