‘Prologue to Greatness: Author, Astrophysicist, and Mentor' - S3: Episode 4 with Maryam Esmat (Part 1)

International Student Stories brought to you by Study in the USA

May 12 2023 • 28 mins


Maryam Esmat’s 24 years of life have played out like a greatest hits album. She’s graced the pages of Forbes Middle East 30 Under 30 for her work in astrophysics and donned the title of the youngest published author in the Middle East — yet, if you ask her where we are in her life’s story, she’d tell you we’ve only read the prologue. Maryam is currently pursuing her PhD at Johns Hopkins University, and if that’s any indication, her story is shaping up to be one for the history books.

Episode Summary

  • 03:09 - Maryam takes us down memory lane, introducing us to her version of the city that never sleeps, her childhood city — Giza, Egypt.
  • 03:53 - Maryam reflects on her household of avid readers, fellow academics, and a mountain of books.
  • 05:06 - Maryam speaks on how the intersections of history, culture, and literature from her parents’ interests gave rise to her personal interest in science.
  • 06:05 - Maryam mentions how the U.S. liberal arts style of education drew her to study abroad.
  • 07:32 - How did Maryam’s family support her decision to come study in the U.S.?
  • 11:19 - Maryam reflects on the reactions of those around her when she first moved vs. now.
  • 13:30 - Maryam emphasizes the depth of geography in the U.S., and mentions some of her favorite states.
  • 15:06 - What are some of the biggest misconceptions or stereotypes that U.S. residents have about international students?
  • 17:49 - Maryam gives us an overview of her award-winning novel, “The Escaping Flashback,” and the inspiration behind it.
  • 20:30 - Maryam mentions how she grounds her writing in reality, taking inspiration from science, human interaction, and the human psyche.
  • 22:05 - Maryam looks back on her creative writing thesis at Lycoming College, “The Evolution of Storytelling in Egypt.”
  • 25:13 - What is the next story Maryam wants to tell?


Johns Hopkins University

Giza, Egypt

The Escaping Flashback

Liberal Arts Education

Forbes 30 Under 30

Guest Information



Study at Lycoming College

Study Astrophysics and Astronomy in the USA

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