Student Focuses on the Greater Good
JJ Khan is using a unique sense of purpose to not only make the DU community a better place, but to spark a greater change in the world. The third-year psychology and socio-legal studies major navigates his many commitments by never forgetting his driving motivation: the greater good. Though he may not know exactly where his studies will lead him, Khan is sure that the opportunities at DU are preparing him for a bright future of helping others.
"I cannot help but feel so fortunate with my experiences and getting so many opportunities here at DU, especially the faculty," said Khan. "So many of them have done much more than just teach me things; I have felt so much wisdom and insight bestowed on me that has helped shape me into who I am today."
Though he initially came to DU as a biochemistry major, Khan later found his passions in psychology and socio-legal studies. "I love learning about how people think, operate, and engage with one another, but I also love law," he said.
Khan believes this journey aided his academic and personal growth at DU. His advice for all students considering changing their initial path is that "it's okay to change your mind, and more specifically, it is important to be open to change."
Now that he is a part of the psychology department, he is gaining hands on experience as a research assistant in the DU Neurodevelopment Research Program. The research at his lab considers how mother's health outcomes will affect their babies.
"Currently, our lab is taking a look at how Interpersonal Therapy administered to pregnant women, who have some form of depression, will impact their babies," Khan explained. "For me, I am helping with the recruiting of moms with 7-month-old babies and doing EEG scans (Electroencephalography scans), of the babies by putting a scanner on their heads and having the babies watch different facial expressions on a screen."
He will be using his experience as an EEG administrator on this research project for his honors thesis.
Additionally, Khan is the founder of the Happy Tampers Initiative, a task force that is determined to make feminine hygiene products free and more accessible on DU's campus. The inspiration for Happy Tampers began when he was part of a class leadership project that involved collecting feminine hygiene products to donate to a local homeless shelter.
"As someone who doesn't use these products myself, I couldn't help but be amazed by how expensive they were and how much variety there was. It made me consider as to how DU students go about getting their own products," he remarked.
Khan became determined to find a way to provide free access to feminine hygiene products throughout campus. So, he formed a task force of peers dubbed "The Happy Tampers" that supplies free tampons and liners in most bathrooms at DU.
"When one of the people on our team suggested we call ourselves 'The Happy Tampers,' I didn't like it at first," he laughed. "But I eventually fell in love with the name. I actually consider the verb 'tamping,' or the act of refilling feminine hygiene products, to be a new legitimate word."
The goal of the Happy Tampers is to create a place on campus where students can go and select a box of their products regularly, just as they would do at a grocery store, except that it's free.
In addition to his studies, lab work and campus initiatives, Khan is a tour guide for DU undergrad admissions with plans to be a Boss Peer Educator next year. And, though it seems impossible that he would find space for free time, Khan actually claims self-care as his most important tool for balance. He enjoys soccer, movies, being outdoors, running, and most importantly, eating breakfast food.
"Staying busy and having a healthy amount of things on your plate is the best way to get things done and stay productive," Khan said. "At the end of the day, doing things purposefully while still taking care of myself has done a lot for me in terms of balance."
Though he doesn't know exactly what career path he will take in the future, Khan knows that his education and involvements at DU are helping him achieve his goal of helping others in big and small ways.
"I am very purposeful about everything I do," he said. "All of my involvements are done with a sense of purpose that is not only for the greater good, but also for my own personal growth and improvement."