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MD, Biology, Cancer, Afghanistan, Russia

Born in Afghanistan, my memories of growing up first in Uzbekistan and then in Russia are not generally pleasant ones, given the troubles of the times on top of the economic difficulties. I was lucky that my parents and I were able to make our home in Portland, Oregon in 2008, when I was twelve years old, at least biologically. Legally I was older, but not emotionally. I am now actually 19 but my US passport says that I am 21. For a variety of complex reasons, this is what resulted from the immigration process and although I sometimes feel cheated out of 2 years existence, increasingly, I come to see this as an asset and I am most motivated to make the best of it. My heart is set on distinguishing myself as a physician who builds a career in the areas of Cancer Biology, immunology, and virology and I am pleased to be off to an early start.

For a teenage girl born in Afghanistan and brought up in Russia, immigrating to the USA represented a great challenge. I remember asking myself: ‘Who am I?’ ‘Where do I belong?’ It was in this period that I realized how belonging can be a tough process. In time, I would learn that I belonged to myself. The most important thing that my unique formation has given me, my greatest gift, is my capacity with language. I am now a native or near-native speaker of 4 languages: Farsi, Russian, Uzbek, Urdu and English. As someone with such a diverse background, I feel especially fond of the great diversity of my home city, Portland, Oregon. I hope to return to Portland after completing medical school and practice medicine for the rest of my career. I look forward to using all of my languages in the care of Portland’s increasingly diverse population which includes speakers of all of my languages.

 I believe that every person must be recognized in his or her humanity. As someone that has experienced war, migration, discrimination, and poverty, I have always felt attached to and compelled by the problems of the world; thus, medicine became my inspiration and sparked my passion to help others. Throughout my adolescence, Doctors Without Borders have been among my principal heroes and this is what I dream of becoming at some point in time. I want to accomplish goals in my community as well, in addition to across the globe. Having a share in bringing humanitarian medical care to people in great need after disasters would be the culmination of my sense of joy.


When I first moved to the U.S in 2008, I struggled with English but worked very hard, with my love for science easing my transition. I not only managed to master English in a short period of time, but I even excelled in high school and graduated a valedictorian—at the same time that I also did volunteer work and met my family and community responsibilities. My first research experience began in my junior year of high school, as I was involved in the Apprenticeship in Science and Engineering program (ASE). As an intern in this program I worked with a team of graduate students and my mentor Dr. Chang in the molecular biology research laboratory, where we investigated the naturally occurring plasmids and viruses of archaea, particularly the virus SSV1. My role in this research was to help with DNA cloning, sequencing, and protein purification. As a research volunteer at the Oregon Health and Science University, I learned a great deal about methods and clinical medicine, working alongside doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. One special highlight was participating in population-based, clinical studies being conducted in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Screening patients for specific treatment protocols and collecting data from patients’ charts and bedsides was my first immersion experience and I immediately felt most at home.

Along with working towards my BS Degree in Molecular Biology/Microbiology at XXXX University, I am also currently serving as a research intern in XXXX Biomedical Engineering Lab at XXXX Cancer Research Institute, working with health providers and graduate students on the development of 3D images of different types of cancer cells. On campus at XXU, I am a volunteer research assistant in Dr. XXXX’s research laboratory working on the synthesis of organic polymers.

In addition, by volunteering in the cardiology unit at XXXX Medical Center, I have now gained invaluable experience and perspective on hospital life; it was not simple, sometimes heart-breaking, but my experience has confirmed my belief that I want this to be my future. During the course of the last two years of my clinical experience in the hospital, I have been able to observe the pleasant and the unpleasant sides of medical practice. I have fewer and fewer illusions and more and more hope and determination to excel.

I now feel emotionally and intellectually ready for the rigorous challenges of medical school and the medical profession. The same determination and resiliency that have helped me to accomplish my goals up to now will enable me to achieve my personal and professional ambitions to become a doctor without boarders and help to promote healing, humanity and compassion at local and global levels.

I thank you for consideration of my application.

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