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Mirza Nahiyan, who was one of TDSB's top students, is about to begin her first year in computer engineering at U of T (photo by Romi Levine)

Mirza Nahiyan (Year 1 CompE) is always up for a challenge. Her next one? University.

Nahiyan, who starts her studies in computer engineering this week, was one of seven students from the Toronto District School Board to receive a 99 per cent or higher average in their last year of high school.

Her drive to succeed comes from a love of problem-solving and an unwavering commitment to her parents who left everything behind in Bangladesh to provide her with a good education. When Nahiyan was four years old, her parents moved to Canada, hoping to provide her and her older brother a brighter future.

“Both of my parents don’t like to show us their burdens – but they work incredibly hard,” said Nahiyan, who graduated from Cedarbrae CI high school with a 99 per cent average. Nahiyan, in return, is committed to ensuring they made the right decision by becoming a star student.

“I knew that was the one thing I had to get right,” she said.

Nahiyan and her mom Nasrin Suldana visiting campus before the first day of class (photo by Romi Levine)
Nahiyan and her mom Nasrin Suldana visiting campus before the first day of class (Credit: Romi Levine)

In high school, Nahiyan was up for any challenge that came her way.

“Every time we had an assignment, the harder it was, the more fun I had,” she said. “It would be all I thought about at night and in my sleep – trying to figure out solutions to this problem.”

In Grade 9, she attended a workshop where she learned how to build apps. It got her thinking about computer engineering. “I learned I really loved it and wanted to do something like that,” Nahiyan said.

From there, she continued taking computer science courses, going above and beyond what was expected of her to impress her teachers – once making an elaborate game where a monkey has to collect bananas, protecting them from gorillas.

“[My teacher] didn’t expect anything like that. It was supposed to be a simple game,” she said. Her love of problem-solving and creating follows Nahiyan home, where she says she’s the head of technology in her household.

“I’m in charge of every tech thing – every furniture build – that’s all me,” she said. “We got new furniture last weekend and I built it all. Only because it’s fun. I wouldn’t really let anyone else help.”

She also loves to draw while listening to music, which she says keeps her productive even when she’s bored.

U of T Engineering will be just another exciting challenge for Nahiyan – though she admits she’s a bit nervous.

“The main thing is being organized and I feel like I honed that in my high school years,” she said. It won’t be that different – but now it’ll be a lot of work, different classes and teachers that won’t coddle you.”

Nahiyan says she’s looking forward to exploring all the resources the Faculty has to offer, including the ECF computer labs.

“I know I have endless opportunities here,” she said.

On her university adventure, Nahiyan knows her family will be with her every step of the way. The emotional reaction her parents had to her receiving top marks in high school was every indication that she’s on the right path.

“They both cried,” she said.

Nahiyan’s mom, Nasrin Suldana, says she’ll miss her daughter going to school so close to home but is looking forward to seeing all that she can accomplish.

“She’s a hard-working person,” Suldana said. “I’m very proud of her.”

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