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LIU Brooklyn Salutatorian Overcomes Cultural Expectations

Respiratory Care Major from Bangladesh Graduates Summa Cum Laude


Helen Saffran,Associate Director of Public Relations
LIU Brooklyn,
Long Island University

LIU BrooklynBrooklyn, N.Y. – She’s the comeback kid from Bangladesh.

Having lost her confidence and “all hope” of earning a degree, Luvna Yeasmin seriously considered dropping out of college during her freshman year at LIU Brooklyn.

As a teen, the respiratory care student had watched her two older siblings start college, only to quit before graduating — decisions based more on culture than on academic performance.

Yeasmin, 23, left for the same reasons, but her parents — who had never gone beyond a junior high school education — persuaded her to return after she had taken off a week from school. A little over three years later, Yeasmin has earned a 3.89 gpa and has secured the second-highest academic honor in LIU Brooklyn’s Class of 2012, salutatorian. She and nearly 2,000 other LIU Brooklyn students will receive their degrees on Thursday, May 10, during the campus’ commencement ceremony at Coney Island’s MCU Park.

“In the Bangladeshi culture, they don’t believe in letting a woman go far with her education,” said Yeasmin, who spent the first five years of her life in Noakhali, a poor village in rural Bangladesh. “My parents were determined to give me the support and strength to break this pattern.”

At LIU Brooklyn, Yeasmin has volunteered at such events as lung cancer walks, smoking cessation clinics and in the campus’ Brenda Pillors Asthma Education Program.

After working in the U.S. to gain respiratory care experience, she plans to return to Bangladesh. When her grandmother died of asthma, which is very common in Bangladesh, there were no clinics or hospitals in her village, and the doctor couldn’t reach her grandmother in time to save her. That her grandmother’s death might have been prevented made a big impact on Yeasmin.

“They have doctors and nurses, but no respiratory therapists in Bangladesh. Respiratory disease is extremely prevalent in Bangladesh because so many people smoke cigarettes there,” said Yeasmin, who lives with her parents in downtown Brooklyn. “I want to expand the knowledge of medicine back home and improve the health system for the poor in Bangladesh.”

At the High School for Health Professions and Human Services in Manhattan, Yeasmin graduated third in her class. In addition to being the salutatorian, her commencement honors at LIU Brooklyn include graduating summa cum laude; earning the Dean’s Scholar Award for Academic Excellence; membership in Alpha Chi, National Collegiate Honor Scholarship Society; and membership in Lambda Beta, Respiratory Care Honor Society.

Yeasmin’s family will attend the commencement ceremony. Her mother will be wearing a traditional sari. “My family is very excited about graduation and I’m so happy that I didn’t let them down,” said Yeasmin.

LIU Brooklyn is distinguished by...
dynamic curricula reflecting the great urban community it serves. Distinctive programs encompass the arts and media, the natural sciences, business, social policy, urban education, the health professions and pharmacy, and include the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, the D.P.T. in Physical Therapy and the Pharm.D. in Pharmacy. A vibrant urban oasis in downtown Brooklyn, this diverse and thriving campus offers academic excellence, personalized attention, small class size and flexible course schedules. In 2006, a $45-million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center was opened to serve the Campus and the surrounding community. In 2007, the Cyber Café was launched, providing a high-tech hot spot for students and faculty members to meet and eat.

Posted 05/01/2012

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