School: School of Medicine
Degree: Doctor of Medicine
Home: Anywhere I’m having great conversation with family and friends over dinner
I’m training to be a doctor with the goal of one day becoming a pediatric surgeon. I like surgery because of the way you can impact care. I was born in Somalia. I came to the United States at a very young age, and I was always aware of my background, my home country, and the challenges they face there. I knew, even when I was young and throughout school and college, that I would strive to do something for people who look like me, people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds like I come from—something to improve their lives, to give back. I saw surgery as the best way to do that.
It’s funny: I felt comfortable going into surgery because of my background in basketball. I’ve always loved basketball. Throughout high school, I’d spend hours and hours practicing by myself. At some point, I realized it wasn’t really about the game—it was about honing my skills. Then, in medical school, I saw the same kind of meticulous practice, and I understood that residents train for years on end, and even when they're attending physicians, they’re still building up their skills. The processes are similar.
A pediatric surgeon working in global health.
Entering medical school, I didn’t see myself ever enjoying research. But I ended up taking a year off to do research in surgical oncology and I so enjoyed the whole process. I realized that in research you get a bird’s-eye view of medicine, patient populations, how we’re treating patients, how we’re working on certain diseases, and how we can improve our work in the future. I was surprised by the fact that I enjoyed it as much as I did.
In medical school, it’s almost counterintuitive to take breaks. Plus, I’m somebody who likes to go, go, go. But I learned that doing other things actually made me a better student. I would take time off, do things I enjoy, play basketball, go to the gym—even just take a walk. I was also involved with the Sharewood Project, a student-run volunteer organization that provides healthcare services to immigrant and impoverished communities, and Mini-Med School, a mentorship program to empower elementary school students to pursue STEM careers. I saw that, yes, I work really hard, but I do my best work when I’m also doing other things that fill up my own cup.
This profile originally appeared as part of the series “Profiles in Inspiration: Commencement 2022 Spotlights."