My name is Muhammed Javed. At age two, I developed a childhood cancer of the eye called retinoblastoma.

My parents were able to bring me to the United States from Pakistan for treatment. One eye was removed, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. This caused a cataract to form in my remaining eye, which made me severely visually impaired for the next fifteen years. I couldn’t have the cataract removed earlier because of the high possibility of complications that could lead to losing my only eye.

The surgery was done just four years ago and was a miraculous success. I can never fully describe how magnificent everything looked after the surgery. For some time, things actually looked surreal, as if I were in a video game or simulation. Just a few months after the surgery, I started my studies at Baruch College, CUNY, where I’ve just graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology summa cum laude.

Wherever I am today, it’s because of my loving family, supportive teachers, excellent education, and enriching experiences. My family and teachers always made me feel that I was perfectly normal and capable of the very best. At college I studied psychology because of my fascination with vision and how the mind works. I also learned about the millions of people in the world who are needlessly blind or visually impaired, mostly because of lack of resources. This led me to decide to pursue a career in public health focusing in eye care. My ultimate goal is to contribute to the efforts of preventing blindness, improving the vision and health of people worldwide.

In the fall, I’ll be going to London to study for a Master’s in Public Health for Eye Care, at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I am one of the few students to be admitted to the program who is not a doctor or a medical professional. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to where it will take me next.

Muhammad received his Master’s degree in Public Health for Eye Care in 2015.