By Noah Britton (B.A. ’20)
Inzul Motiwala, a senior psychology major, is the 2018 recipient of the Georgia State Honors College Young Alumni Advisory Board Scholarship.
Motiwala moved to the United States from Pakistan when she was 15, shortly after the 2008 stock market crash.
“Things weren’t the best financially for my family, and the job market in Pakistan wasn’t the best, so after a few years my parents decided to move to the U.S.,” Motiwala said.
She described her decision to study psychology as part of a generational shift in the culture in which she was raised.
“More and more younger people (in Pakistan) are placing an importance on mental health,” Motiwala said.
The continuing Syrian refugee crisis and the psychological strain of displacement also inspired her to study psychology with an Arabic minor and pursue service-based opportunities.
“Everyone always talks about donating money to help rehabilitate refugees,” she said. “But I didn’t feel like enough people were trying to help them deal with emotional stress and trauma.”
The Honors College Young Alumni Advisory Board chose Motiwala to be its 2018 scholarship recipient because of her passion, as well as her involvement in academic and student organizations. She is a member of LEAD with Honors, a three-year academic program that develops critical leadership skills among Honors College students; serves as president of Psi Chi, an international honors society for psychology; and has served as vice president of Georgia State’s Honors Student Organization.
The scholarship, which awards recipients $500 annually, recognizes students who exemplify the core values of young alumni, particularly service orientation, support of fellow members of the Honors community and Panther pride. It also eased financial pressure on Motiwala and allowed her to take a month off work, which she used to focus on school and begin her thesis.
Motiwala’s thesis stems from her research with the Nia Project, an empowerment program for African-American women led by Grady Memorial Hospital. Her thesis explores the effects of stereotypes of black women on their self-esteem.
“A lot of African-American women feel like they’re stereotyped or they have to be strong,” Motiwala said. She referenced recent headlines about Serena Williams and caricatures of angry black women, and the negative effects of these stereotypes on self-esteem.
In addition to her year-long internship with the Nia Project, Motiwala currently works with Dr. Jessica Turner’s neuroscience lab through Georgia State’s psychology department. Here, Motiwala analyzes brain scans to study the behavioral aspects of schizophrenia.
Motiwala also worked with Dr. John Horgan’s terrorism research lab, conducted by Georgia State’s psychology department, where she collected and analyzed data on Muslim converts connected with terrorism.
With all her accolades, titles and her hands-on experience in labs and hospitals, no career seems unrealistic for Motiwala. Her goal is to earn a doctoral degree related to industrial organization, a new field of psychology heavily involved with the human resources aspect of business.