Aathma Nirmala Dious

Stopping and breathing: A gap year for health and art

By Malak Abdel-Ghaffar

Aathma Nirmala Dious, Class of 2021, graduated with a BA in Literature and Creative Writing and a minor in film studies. She is currently taking a gap year to slow down and focus on finishing a novel she started during her senior year. 

Dious has always committed herself to excelling as a writer and artist. She was a key poet in Rooftop Rhythms and a representative of the Literature and Creative Writing department. Her novel, titled Thoo, explores her relationship with Abu Dhabi and it was part of her Capstone Project. With the help of her academic advisors and mentors, Dious was able to polish the first draft of her novel. “This is a project I am proud of and I want to have the opportunity to finish it and potentially publish it,” she explained.

I must say, a gap year is a privilege. I have the privilege to sit down and stop.

Aathma Nirmala Dious, Class of 2021

During her senior year, and in the midst of writing a novel, applying to graduate school, and submitting job applications, Dious decided that the most constructive thing she could do was to take a step back and prioritize her mental health. “Simply, I wanted time for myself. I wanted to take a break, slow down, really sit and think about the past four years.” Taking a gap year provides Dious the space to work on her novel, spend time with her family, explore post-graduate opportunities, and understand herself better — all at her own pace.

During her time at NYUAD, Dious learned the essential lesson of not comparing herself to others. She believes in the importance of recognizing your own priorities and considering your circumstances when planning out the next steps. “I must say, a gap year is a privilege. I have the privilege to sit down and stop. Some people don’t have that and that’s okay”.