We recently sat down with Hadia Zarzour, Mental Health Therapist, as part of our Born Seekers campaign. Hadia pursued her passion to work with Syrian refugees in Chicago and focus on their post-traumatic growth—their inner strength and resilience to adapt to a new culture.
Q: What made you fall in love with science? Was there something that sparked your initial interest?
I was 14 when I first fell in love with psychology. I grew up surrounded by my family who was very intellectual, and we used to have scholars at home talking about Syria's future and what it takes to have change in the country, and values of freedom and change.
Q: Tell us about what you’re working on now.
I currently work with Syrian refugees in Chicago. I help them deal with the trauma they faced in Syria and with adjusting to being refugees in this country. I try to focus on the inner strengths that they have, so I look at the work that I do from post-traumatic growth lens versus one of post-traumatic stress disorder. Instead of pathology, I like to look at strength and resilience.
Q: What does it take to become a successful scientist?
I was very privileged and very lucky that I found my passion when I was younger. That's why I would love for other women, and for other younger women, to go through the same journey. But it's very important to ask questions, and to be curious, and to seek help and support. Just be courageous and follow your passion, and there will always be people who support you wherever you go.
Q: What advice would you give the next generation of female scientists?
The advice that I would give is to follow your passion and to be courageous enough to dive into this ocean of challenges that you might face. What we see at the beginning of the road is so different than what we see at the end or in the middle of it.
Q: What do you think makes someone a Born Seeker? What qualities do you think are essential to becoming a Born Seeker?
As a Born Seeker, I'm pushing boundaries every day, challenging the stereotypes that people have towards refugees. It's very important to understand how refugees are different. They come from different cultural backgrounds, and we cannot assume things about them, like their ability to be productive citizens in any community. I always like to focus on what we call post-traumatic growth, which is the inner strength and the qualities that the person has.