Honors College research, volunteer opportunities establish career path for new grad
From opportunities to conduct research for a capstone project and having access to specialized courses, to being assigned a faculty fellow mentor and advisor, the UIC Honors College provides students with the resources and guidance to achieve excellence.
Abdalrahman Ahmed, who will graduate from UIC this month with degrees in biological sciences and applied psychology from the College of Liberal Arts and Science, attests to the significant role the college has had in his development and success as a student.
“The Honors College at UIC emphasizes personal growth and provided me with the tools to be the best version of myself. It has provided me with a close-knit and enriching environment that promotes academic growth and engagement with my peers,” Ahmed said.
A fortuitous meeting at a public rally led him to a two-year stint as a research assistant to Dr. Hassan Ghomrawi at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. During Ahmed’s final semester, he was the first author on a study about recent trends in the use of conventional and computer-assisted knee arthroplasty, or CAKA, that was based on his research at Northwestern and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
“Our research showed that adoption of computer-assisted knee arthroplasty has increased in recent years; however, Black and Hispanic patients, as well as Medicaid users, are less likely to receive the higher precision CAKAs, illustrating disparities in CAKA adoption,” Ahmed said. “To our knowledge, this is the first population-based study of its kind to give insight on CAKA utilization trends in the post-ICD-9-CM procedure codes era, which began the final quarter of 2015.”
He recently began an internship at UIC’s Institute for Health Research and Policy with Dr. Robin Mermelstein, co-director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science; professor of psychology, and LAS distinguished professor.
“The research project I am a part of will be trying to develop and evaluate motivational messages to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. I feel like this is a much-needed study at this time and feel very fortunate to be able to be a part of that initiative,” he said.
As a UIC student, Ahmed was involved in several community development initiatives on Chicago’s South Side that included organizing health expos, educational workshops, back-to-school drives and hygiene kit drives. He also helped clean parks and volunteered at local homeless shelters and soup kitchens.
These volunteer experiences over the past four years allowed him to see firsthand the troubling effects that unequal health care access and disparities can have on communities. They also helped shape his career plans.
Ahmed will start medical studies at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee this fall. After completing medical school, he plans to practice medicine in a disadvantaged community.
“Those living in underserved areas like the South Side of Chicago do not have the same health care access or benefits which I believe is a right of all people. I want to bridge this gap,” he said. “I do not believe people should have to choose between maintaining their health and providing for their families. While practicing medicine, I intend to increase the accessibility of health care to the underserved populations, that are at times forgotten, by developing strategies to improve community and public health.”