You have to get past what’s strikingly different about Mariam Nawas to grasp how similar she is to other young women her age.

Drive through downtown in the early evening and you might see the 22-year-old running. She’ll be the one gutting it up the Gillham Road hill near Crown Center or striding down Grand Boulevard, Cake or Third Eye Blind blasting on her iPod.

The approximately six-mile run would be grueling for many people. But with her head covered in a hijab, her arms in a long-sleeve T-shirt and her legs in warmup pants? In this summer’s heat?

“It’s a release,” the fifth-year medical student said. “It’s a part of my day that I look the most forward to.”

And her attire? She acknowledges it’s a bit of an added challenge in the recent 100-degree weather, pavement steamed all day by the sun. But having grown up Muslim, she can’t imagine what it would feel like to run less encumbered.

In some ways, it frees her. She’s certainly not overly concerned with how her body appears to others. (More)


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