The Malik family moved into Blackhawk in 2020, during the lockdown, so they have not been able to take advantage of all the fun our community has to offer, but they look forward to making many memories in their new neighborhood.
Sumaira and Zee Malik, along with their two children, 18-year-old son, Saad, and 13-year-old daughter, Menahil, decided to relocate to the Bay Area after Saad graduated from high school. “We knew we wanted to be in Danville and narrowed our search to the Blackhawk community as it was a perfect fit for what we were looking for. Our kids love living in Blackhawk, and we feel blessed that we are part of this beautiful community,” says Sumaira.
College brought Sumaira and Zee together where they became good friends. After finishing college they parted ways to achieve their goal of going abroad for higher education. They both went for Doctorate degrees in different countries in Europe but remained in touch. After finishing the first year of graduate school, Sumaira says they decided to get married and continue pursuing their degrees. “We flew to Karachi, Pakistan and got married in 1997 with our families’ blessing and our friendship turned into a lifelong partnership as a husband and wife.”
The couple continued to travel throughout Europe after their wedding. “We visited almost all European countries. We loved the elegant streets of Paris, the fairytale castles of Prague, the culture and art of Vienna and the breathtaking beauty of Switzerland. We admired the history, art, music and architecture of Europe. All these experiences provided us with immense opportunities to connect with people, navigate foreign environments and embrace the discomfort. It helped us each to become a confident and competent individual,” says Sumaira.
After completing their doctorate degrees, the couple moved to the United States so that they could continue their education, Sumaira in Cancer Biology and Zee in Protein Chemistry at Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa. They bought their first home in Iowa City and welcomed their son to the family. Five years later, their daughter was born. In 2009, the family made the move to Davis, California for Zee’s research. Sumaira then joined the UC Davis Cancer Center to continue her career as a breast cancer researcher. After working for UC Davis for six years, Zee decided to leave academia and joined a Biopharma Company in the Bay Area. Sumaira eventually followed him and now they both work at a research-driven pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim in Fremont.
Zee was born in Pakistan. His father was in the navy and he grew up in Karachi. He was a very good student and a good sportsman. He enjoyed playing ground hockey and various other sports. Sumaira was born in India to a Pakistani father and Indian mother. “Like millions of others, both my parents were born in what is now India. At the time of partition, my father’s family moved to the newly-created country called Pakistan, while my mother’s family stayed in India. When I was 12, my family immigrated to Karachi, Pakistan and I started attending school there. Just when we thought we were settled in our new life in a new country, life brought us a dreadful surprise that changed our life forever. I still remember the dreadful day when my mother broke the news that my dad had throat cancer. This was the news that turned our lives into a roller coaster of emotions. Over the next eight months, my father bravely endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation but eventually lost his life to the dreadful disease. I matured overnight, and as the oldest child felt a sense of responsibility towards my family. I realized that being a positive mentor for my younger siblings is not only a responsibility, but also a choice. I focused on working hard, getting a good education and becoming independent. I always dreamt of going abroad for higher education, and a Fulbright Scholarship from UNESCO to a fully funded PhD degree in Europe helped me achieve my goals. The Fellowship provided an opportunity to not only travel all over Europe but also study and live on a fully funded scholarship in France, Germany and Hungary. I finished my PhD with Summa-Cum Laude in structural Biochemistry. I joined UC Davis as a Breast Cancer Researcher, where I passionately continued my pursuit of developing novel strategies to combat breast cancer metastasis and published papers in top tier peer-reviewed journals. I have been invited as a speaker at various national and international conferences and talked about breast cancer awareness/ breast cancer research. I am very passionate about my profession and realize the importance of cancer research in reducing the global burden of cancer. As I was touched by cancer at a personal level, I appreciate the progress we have made because of cancer research, but also realize how much more cancer research is needed to be done. This prompted me to step into the field of cancer research and contribute in combating this disease,” says Sumaira.
Saad graduated from high school during the pandemic and is a freshman at San Jose State University. Menahil is in middle school. “It was challenging for both our kids in the beginning of our move as they left behind all their friends and the life they have known for the last 11-years for a fresh start in a new town. They kept their support network strong and stayed in touch virtually with their friends. We are very proud that both our kids adjusted well to their new surroundings and to the remote learning. Academically, they performed remarkably well during the pandemic and completed their first semester with excellent grades. Mena is not only very good academically but is also very artistic, she loves playing volleyball and enjoys swimming. Saad enjoys exploring new places and has natural talent for public speaking. Currently, he is pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering and plans to go to medical school,” says Sumaira.
Travel, volunteer work and creative passions balance out the Malik family’s lives. “We have always been very active in our local community. When we lived in Davis, I was very involved in my children’s school. I was an active member of Davis Engagement and Interfaith Network (DEIN) and helped organize events aimed at engaging with the community to improve understanding and to promote an inclusive community. I also serve as a co-chair of Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) at Boehringer Ingelheim and working to promote the advancement of women, throughout their careers by supporting professional development and mentorship opportunities. I’m a very creative person and an artist by heart. I love to paint on silk and exhibit my creations at various trunk shows,” says Sumaira.
With all that Blackhawk has to offer, the family is looking forward to becoming actively involved in the fun once the pandemic is over. Make sure you say hello and welcome them to the neighborhood.
By Megan Scott, Resident since 2010
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