Profiles of Parkland: Zayd Jawad

Scott Wells

Staff Writer

Zayd Jawad was diagnosed at age five with an extremely rare genetic disorder called Hunter syndrome.

Zayd Jawad, Scott Wells, Parkland College, Prospectus News

Photo of Zayd Jawad by Scott Wells

“I am quite blessed,” he said.

Whereas Jawad’s family comes from the Middle East, he was born and raised in Champaign. A student of the Unit 4 district, Jawad graduated from Champaign Central in 2015.

“From a young age, I had to learn to do the best I can with what I have, wherever I am,” he said.  “Hunter [syndrome] is what they call a lysosomal storage disorder that affects every system of the body from growth and development of your organs, to your ability to walk and move, to even physical and mental lifespan.”

Hunter syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a result of an enzyme—which are microscopic molecules that serve as the spark to most of the body’s chemical reactions necessary for healthy functioning—failing to do its job as it should, resulting in a build-up of harmful chemicals in the body.

It is inherited from the mother’s X chromosome, which carries and passes down the malfunctioning enzyme to the son. Each son has a 25 percent chance of having Hunter syndrome. Girls almost never have the already-rare condition due to having two X chromosomes; if one is affected, the other can compensate.

Jawad says he did not let his diagnosis interfere with his desire to make the most of his high school years.

“I could not necessarily play sports in high school and excel,” he said. “Instead I rose up the ranks in music playing lead jazz trombone.”

The Parkland communications student’s ability to perform music in front of live audiences provided him the confidence needed to transition into his current passion for public speaking.

“I love to practice speaking,” he said. “Reciting speeches and writing my own is what I plan to do [for a living].”

In addition to his studies, Jawad is a senator in Parkland’s student government, and he works as a student assistant in the Office of Student Life.

“The most rewarding part of my job is being able to interact with so many people,” he said. “I love connecting to others, in fact as part of my journey to health I realized the importance of every single person around me, that is each person in my life is a gift.”

When he isn’t working or involved in his studies, Jawad enjoys calisthenics training, martial arts, and spending time outdoors.

“Before, I never used to be the most involved person,” he said. “Now, I am currently building my career as a speaker, living each day to the fullest, working hard to bring out my own vision—so that I might shine to bring out the visions of those around me.”