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Khayla black is a 3rd year student at NYU Shanghai studying Biology. Picking up on her childhood interest in science and biology, Khalya went on to join the International Youth Neuroscience Association( IYNA). Over the years, she has risen through the ranks to her current position where she is CEO of the IYNA. Through this interview, we will learn about her journey and how the youth can leverage her lessons for their future.
What inspired you to pursue biology and particularly take on your role at the International Youth Neuroscience Association?
Khayla’s passion for biology had been evident since she was merely six years old. She was particularly interested in the composition of the human body and how it functioned. As Khayla approached college wanting to study neuroscience and become a doctor, however as she exposed herself to the research aspects of science, she saw an opportunity to situated herself on the ‘front line’ and took it. In university, what became apparent for Khayla was that there was a lot more to the human body than she originally perceived, this deterred her from taking neuroscience and instead set her on a bath to pursue biology as she felt it was a lot more widely encompassing. However, through the International Youth Neuroscience Association, she was able to continue channel her interests in Neuroscience. The association ended up being a huge benefit for Khayla, to such an extent where she felt as though she wanted to ‘give back’ what she had learnt. This led her to take on roles in the IYNA with a higher level of responsibility. In each of these roles, she found herself continuously learning and growing her skillset, eventually leading to the role of CEO.
In making the transition from high school to university, what are some of the biggest challenges you came across? How do you think students can mitigate these challenges?
- One of the biggest factors that separates high school from universities is the amount of opportunities on offer. The environment university creates is one that allows each student to individualise themselves and pursue whatever the niche is they are trying to pursue. What this prevents is the ability for students to continuously compare themselves to the students next to them, an issue much more prevalent in school settings.
- Another big distinction that comes with the jump to university is the amount of stress put on a student. With the amount of opportunities available, it’s very easy for students to overvalue their priorities. This leads to a situation in which the stress created from things such as missing an assignment are inflated. This is why it’s important to evaluate situations as they are and realise what is truly important and what isn’t.
Why do you think it is important that students immerse themselves in experiences outside of their academic courses? Can you think of a few times that this has benefited you?
As put by Khayla, we all start university with a mixed up Rubik’s Cube, we can often think of the end goal as finishing university with a Rubik’s Cube that has been fully solved. However, It’s important to acknowledge that each of the sides of this Rubik’s Cube play a major role in your university journey. For example, one may represent academics, while the other internships or extra-curricular and even sleep and well being. Therefore, we are not going to get a full Rubik’s cube complete by just focusing on one side. This not only represents the multifaceted nature of being a well-rounded student, but also conveys the fact that focusing on one particular area is not only unhelpful, but the wrong approach. Immersing ourselves in a variety of experiences gives us a more holistic approach to the problem we will face in our everyday lives.
If you could leave the youth with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Khayla expressed the opinion that we should always strive to explore and push ourselves above our safe boundaries. An example can be seen in engaging with people that see the world from a completely different lens ours. This not only creates more-open minded and empathetic people, not also transforms the way in which we navigate throughout the world.