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Huma Fatima, M.D., is Associate Professor of Anatomic Pathology and a member of of the Department of Pathology's Diversity Task Force. This group meets monthly and includes representatives from around the department, including faculty, staff, and trainees. Here, Dr. Fatima shares her personal story of diversity. 

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

My parents moved to Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, when I was very young. It was then a newly developed city, located in a valley an hour away from one of the famous hill resorts in Pakistan. It was unpolluted, lush, green and scenic. In summer the soft cool evening breeze made outdoor activities more attractive and pleasant. We used to play in our street even until midnight during our summer holidays, as there was enough free time and no compulsion to wake up early for the school. In winter, the stunning view of fog-enveloped mornings seen from our terrace is still vivid and part of my pleasant memories. Once in a writing competition, a neighborhood friend called Islamabad, ”Beauty in the lap of serenity." This phrase perfectly described our city.

Before I moved to the U.S. for my pathology residency, I had largely stayed in Islamabad. I completed my junior school, high school and medical college and started by post-graduate work there. I loved my city and did not wish to leave it, ever. Nevertheless, life is not about having all your wishes come true. Higher goals sometimes demand greater sacrifices. Therefore, to pursue my future goals, I had to bid farewell to Islamabad- my city, my home.

I moved to Birmingham to join UAB as a faculty member in the Department of Pathology in July 2011, after completing my residency and fellowships in the U.S. After a few days of coming to this new place, when I had settled down a bit, I got up early in the morning to go for a walk as my normal routine physical activity. My apartment building was at the top of a hill and as I was coming down, I saw houses down the hill with their lights twinkling like little stars.  I walked along taking in the fresh air, closely looking at the surroundings and watching the daybreak. At that small hour, I found everything smiling, warm and welcoming. Suddenly, I felt as if I was back in my home city. A little seed of adoration for this place sprouted inside me. The more I explored the city, the more I loved it. Now it feels that the little seed of adoration has grown into a strong tree whose roots have penetrated deep in my heart.

Now, while I live in Birmingham, I smile at the time when I decided to come to UAB.  After I came to know the views and opinions of people about the city, I became a little unsure and apprehensive.  However, my strong belief in the fact that people are the same regardless of color, cast, culture and religion, made me firm in my decision.  I still believe that no matter wherever you are or whoever you are, if you give respect, you will gain respect.  Whoever transcends beyond the manmade boundaries of human societies can find the true beauty of life and learn the art of living.

This is my ninth year in Birmingham and I am glad that I did not let my belief overrun by the people's opinion about this place, otherwise this bias would never have let me enjoy the feeling of being at home.