It’s not always easy being an optimist, but fifth-year Engineering student Bai Bintou Kaira has a tendency to embrace life’s challenges rather than turn away from them.
“I’m just trying to motivate people to see that life is a work in progress, but that no matter what your experience is, it can always be better,” she says. “You should always believe that it’s going to be better and work towards that.”
Kaira has brought her positive perspective to many different initiatives since arriving at Dal from her home country of The Gambia in West Africa—challenging herself and inspiring others in the process. She’s been a tutor to other Engineering students, a mentor to youth of African descent with Imhotep’s Legacy Academy and the Black Student Advising Centre, and an advocate for international students as an executive with the African Students’ Society— all while learning to come to terms with the death of her mother when she was in first year. Kaira says the confidence she has in her own ability to help initiate change has grown through these experiences, which have also given her an appreciation for the value of teamwork.
Kaira was originally set on going to medical school. Now, she says she’s gravitating toward a career focused on redesigning existing medical technology to make it accessible to low-resource regions, such as the developing countries she was surrounded by growing up and Canada’s northern communities. While some dwell on the structural challenges in such an undertaking, Kaira chooses to see the opportunity. “If you believe in something and you hold tight to it, somebody else will believe in it, too,” she says.