HERD AROUND THE WORLD: Hafiz Ataulmustafa, Pakistan


Joelle Gates

Hafiz Ataulmustafa


After completing his undergraduate degree in Russia, Hafiz Ataulmustafa came to Marshall University to attain a master’s degree. 

By joining INTO, a program which brings international students to American universities, Ataulmustafa was given another opportunity to leave his town in Punjab, Pakistan, and begin a life in a new country.

“Having international exposure helps because each country teaches you something new,” Ataulmustafa said. 

Following an undergraduate career in Russia, Ataulmustafa returned to Pakistan to work as a researcher and eventually decided to pursue more experience and education.

“To get a good promotion in Pakistan, I needed a master’s degree,” Ataulmustafa said. “I considered many countries, but I think the United States offers the best education in the world.”

By pursuing a degree in public health, Ataulmustafa said he ultimately wants to use his time in America to acquire skills he can use in his home country. 

“I want to go back and work in a big organization such as the United Nations,” Ataulmustafa said. “I want to change many things (in my country) to improve the quality of citizens’ health.”

Although he’s only been in America since August, Ataulmustafa said he has had no trouble adjusting to life in a new setting. 

“I have a lot of international exposure, so adjusting to new places isn’t very hard,” Ataulmustafa said. “As Marshall says, I’ve been welcomed as a son.”

While adjusting to life in America has been easy for Ataulmustafa, he said the journey to get here was filled with many obstacles. 

“Getting a visa to America is a big struggle, especially in Pakistan,” Ataulmustafa said. “I had some friends who also applied for a visa, but they were denied. I was lucky enough to be granted one, but I think it was because I have travel history.”

Even though he has only been in classes for a short period of time, Ataulmustafa said he is already setting high goals for the future. 

“I’m looking forward to doing more research for my degree and gaining new skills that will help me in my professional life,” Ataulmustafa said.

As Ataulmustafa establishes a new life in America and begins to plan for his future, he said he also wants to inspire Marshall students to grasp a better understanding of international stories. 

“A lot of people here confuse Pakistani and Indian people because they think we’re from the same country,” Ataulmustafa said. “Many people have asked where I’m from in India just because I share a similar look to Indians. We need to promote the differences between countries to better understand each other.”

Joelle Gates can be contacted at [email protected]