Meem Noshin Nawal Khan ’24: Sparking change through chemistry and writing

Meem Noshin Nawal Khan standing in front of the Science Center doors
Chemistry major Meem Noshin Nawal Khan ’24 outside the Science Center

In the fall of 2020, Meem Noshin Nawal Khan ’24 started her Gettysburg College experience from her home in Bangladesh. A year later, as the COVID-19 pandemic improved, the chemistry major found a home on campus, spending most of her time in a Science Center lab as a research assistant for Chemistry Prof. Suvrajit Sengupta.

“This was the first time I'm actually working in a research lab, dealing with chemicals, wearing gloves and a lab coat, and looking like a scientist,” Khan said. “[I sent] pictures to my mother, saying, ‘Oh my gosh, look at me. I look like a scientist.’ It was fun.”

No longer navigating a 10-hour time difference while taking Gettysburg classes from Bangladesh, the Eisenhower Scholar arrived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, ready to take on new challenges. She began working as a residence coordinator and participated in the Cross-Disciplinary Science Institute during the summer of 2021. Hoping to become an environmental chemist in Bangladesh one day, Khan has cherished the interdisciplinary nature of her liberal arts and sciences education combined with her co-curricular experiences, as it has allowed her to pursue various passions while learning how to make an impact.

“I plan on going back home and working on environment pollution and climate change because … it's a big problem in my country,” Khan said. “International students don't really get to do research in undergrad. [At Gettysburg,] in undergrad, [we] do research and get paid, so that’s a great opportunity.”

Meem Noshin Nawal Khan writing on a whiteboard in the lab
Meem Noshin Nawal Khan ’24 in the chemistry lab

Khan’s passion for sparking change through chemistry stems from a desire to make a difference. Back home, she enjoyed working with nonprofit organizations, including The Kind Soul, a nonprofit she founded that’s dedicated to homeless children. Khan has also advocated for children’s rights through creative writing in the media, earning her six awards by UNICEF for this work.

She continued this passion for changemaking in her first year as a college student, interning with the Adams County Children’s Advocacy Center (ACCAC), a nonprofit that supports victims of child abuse. Through this internship, which was suggested to her by Public Policy Prof. Anne Douds, she wrote content for the ACCAC website under the guise of mentor Cindy Small and led a project that would improve the organization’s digital presence.

“If [the ACCAC] can be more active on social media, they will reach more people and get more donations,” explained Khan, who presented her findings at the Celebration of Academic First-Year Engagement (CAFÉ) Symposium in February.

The internship also allowed Khan, a writing minor, to hone her English writing skills in a professional setting. As a child author, with 18 published books under her belt, including “Konokchapa,” a book she wrote at eight years old, Khan always looks to build upon her communication skills, including learning how to receive and incorporate feedback into her work and how fiction and academic writing differ.

“The [internship] was making my heart happy because I love writing,” she said. “Writing is like oxygen for me.”

Meem Noshin Nawal Khan standing on the steps of the science center
Meem Noshin Nawal Khan ’24 in the Science Center

Making all this possible are the welcoming community and connections fostered at Gettysburg. Khan has found students, faculty, and staff who have treated her like family, including our first-class faculty like Sengupta and Douds, the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Muslim Student Advisor Niamate Leeper and fellow international students.

“I have this partial family here and there on campus,” she said. “Prof. Sengupta is kind of like my dad. He’s from India, so he speaks my language.”

Since she first stepped foot on campus, Khan has felt supported by the Gettysburg community with every member saying hello and opening doors.

“This culture of people being caring, kind, and loving is the Gettysburg culture. Even strangers are so kind to you,” she said. “I think that's the good thing about being in a small, close-knit community.”

Learn about the opportunities for civic engagement through the prestigious Eisenhower Scholarship.

By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photo courtesy of Aly Leia Wein ’24
Posted: 11/29/21