Fast track to med school
A member of the first cohort in the B.A./M.D. Scholars Program reflects on her path to medicine and the life-changing impact of philanthropy.

Name: Amera Hassan
Class year: CLA '20, Medical School '24
Hometown: Blaine, Minn.
Scholarships received include: Blythe Brenden Scholarship; Class of 1968 Endowed Scholarship; Margaret Dowell-Gravatt, M.D., Scholarship

About the B.A./M.D. Scholars Program: The program provides students an opportunity to complete both a bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and a medical degree at the U of M Medical School in seven years. Backed by support from the Blythe Brenden Scholarship for B.A./M.D. Joint Admissions Scholars, this pipeline program admits only 10 freshmen per year who express an interest in meeting the health care needs of Minnesota’s diverse patient population.

On the barriers to higher education: “I never had family who went to college in the U.S.—I had to figure it all out on my own. So having scholarship support really does allow you to have at least one person who believes in you enough to know that you can do it, and it’s a huge load off your back.”

Why she wants to become a doctor: “I grew up in Egypt for part of my life, and when my cousin was very sick I got to see how the health care system operates there, and how medicine can make such a difference in someone’s life. And then coming back home to the U.S. and falling in love with my science classes—that really led the way to medicine for me.”

What she’s learned about herself during the program: “I’ve come to realize that not only do I hope to be an exceptional physician, I also want to be a good mentor to those who will come after me, especially those from underserved backgrounds who would make incredible doctors but are often left behind and aren’t afforded as many opportunities or interest from professors and academics. Maybe being in the first cohort has built that spearheaded-ness in me and the desire to build others up around me as I go through what can often be a grueling training process.”

Memorable moments from med school: “It’s difficult to choose between the rock-paper-scissors competitions with my fellow classmate that provide a mental break in a busy clinic day, the pediatric patient who took off his boot and sock to show me the Band-Aid on his little toe, the Middle Eastern patient who was so excited to finally have someone from their own culture take care of them in the hospital before a heart procedure, and the shared laughs and tears with some of the best friends I’ve ever made and who I know will be amazing future physicians.”

How scholarship support has impacted her life: “It’s been a lot of help to have financial support during med school. There’s not much time outside of rotations to have a job or find other ways to financially support myself, so contributions of financial means are always appreciated, and they mean so much.”

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