My love for writing developed early in a childhood spent bouncing between my native Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. At 17, I attended high school in the morning and assigned and edited stories for a national Pakistani paper in the afternoon.
I left Karachi in 1996 to attend Brandeis University on a full scholarship, graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in English and American literature. It was the peak of the dotcom craze, and quite naturally, I joined a business-to-business website in Boston as a content writer. Four years later, a fellowship brought me to the University of Maryland, College Park, where I completed a master’s degree in journalism with a focus on print and online media. My reporting for an alternative newsweekly in Eugene, Ore., and online and daily political reporting while in graduate school earned several chapter awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.
In the years since, I’ve juggled assignments across large and small, American and foreign, and print and online media outlets. I spent most of 2006 in Pakistan, covering the American government’s response to a 7.6-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 70,000 people. I wrote and edited stories, fact sheets and special publications for the United States Agency for International Development, balancing a rigorous travel schedule in the earthquake zone with tight copy deadlines. Weary villagers entrusted people like me with their voices because they needed the world’s attention.
I returned from Pakistan with a renewed commitment to tell people’s stories — of survival, of politics, of business — to the best of my ability. That desire defined my term as editor of Street Sense, a nonprofit newspaper for the homeless in Washington, D.C., and it defines my career as a freelance editor and writer now.