Presenting his research at the American College of Cardiology’s conference in Washington D.C. was, for Nima, a validation of his hard work in a very demanding major at UC San Diego, and of the barriers he’s overcome.
“Born into a low-income immigrant family,” he says, “the main challenges I had growing up were learning independently, caring for my younger sister, and utilizing the scarce resources I had around me. I did not learn English until elementary school, since my parents did not speak it either. Thus, I had a difficult time acclimating to American culture and finding friends. Additionally, since both of my parents worked full-time, I took responsibility for my sister, trying my best to be a positive influence for her.”
Carrying that sense of responsibility forward, Nima now tutors Lincoln High School students in math and science, providing a college-bound role model who can offer practical advice. At UC San Diego, he also mentors incoming students who are interested in a medical career. He’s sharing what he had to learn the hard way.
“I feel like the greatest obstacle in my life was lack of social capital. Throughout high school, for example, I had to work independently to discover what options were available to me and how I could find opportunities. No one in my family had gone to college before so the idea of attending a four-year university was foreign. Navigating my way through high school courses, college applications, and financial aid was more challenging than it should have been. However, this experience has made me stronger and helped me form an identity, so I would change it for nothing else.”
Appearing to never sleep, Nima has held a clinical research internship at UC San Francisco (leading to the D.C. conference) and an immunology research lab position at UC San Diego. He’s also helped establish a new student organization, EMS@UCSD, focused on emergency medical services career paths. He currently does action research through UC San Diego's Education department, seeking to identify the best practices for college mentors when working with underserved students.
Applying his organizational skills, Nima interned at the fifth annual U.S.-China Health Summit at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “I assisted doctors and investors by analyzing biotech and healthcare-related business proposals to evaluate their market potential and possible impact on their industries.
“My time in college has allowed me to identify activities that I take great interest in as well as talents I had never thought I possessed. I have realized that I am able to work well with children and the elderly, and that I find delight in doing so.”
He plans to use this scholarship to help finance the costs for medical school applications in the coming year.
His goal: “To become a licensed physician who focuses on helping underserved populations.”