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University Medalist Sets High Goals

by Robert Sanders, Public Affairs
posted May 13, 1998

With a maturity beyond his years, graduating senior Mekhail Anwar sketched out his life plan.

First medical school, then a PhD in electrical engineering, followed by research and teaching in the area of bioMEMS, and to cap it all, a start-up biotech firm to “put my ideas on the drawing board.”

Ambitious plans for a 20-year-old. But Anwar has the focus, talent and modesty to make them happen.

“He’s got these goals that, if it were anyone else, I’d say, ‘Cool it a bit!’” said neurobiologist Geoffrey Owen, who has supervised Anwar’s honors research for the past year. “But I’m absolutely sure Mekhail will meet his goals.”

Anwar received the 1998 University Medal, the campus’s top honor for a graduating senior since 1871.

With a GPA of 3.974, Anwar graduates on May 22 with a BS in physics. He is considering MD/PhD programs at both Harvard/MIT and UCLA.

Wherever he lands, he leaves behind a string of Cal accomplishments. Using physics as a springboard, Anwar conducted research on silicon wafers at Berkeley Lab during his sophomore year, helped design memory circuits at Texas Instruments one summer, and subsequently got involved in neurobiology and developed an interest in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices – two fields he hopes to merge.

Anwar, as well as his 18-year-old sister Shamena, a Berkeley student majoring in economics and statistics, seem to have inherited their mother’s spirit.
“One of the people I really admire is my mom,” said Anwar, whose father is Bangladeshi and whose mother is of European descent. “She instilled in my sister and me that you have to be focused and not let anyone divert you from your goal, you have to be independent.

“But, like my mother, I always try to keep a balance with who is important in my life.”

And what about his Berkeley experience? “It’s a real center of intellectual and political discussion, as well as cultural,” said Anwar, who hails from Westminster High School in Orange Co. “I’ve seen Jessie Jackson and Jerry Brown. I even met Al Gore at Caffe Strada. I wouldn’t have chosen any other place.”

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