Alumni Spotlight

Amal (center) and Wafa (right)

Just who is a typical CASL graduate?  The simple answer is that there is no such person.  CASL alumni have a diverse range of skills, talents, experiences, and goals.  By “spotlighting” someone every other month, we hope to introduce you to our diverse group of alums ... and maybe you'll see a familiar face.

Wafa Algahmi:   Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Winter 2014.

Amal Algahmi:   Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Winter 2013.

What are your current job responsibilities and/or volunteer activities? 

Wafa: I’m currently a second year medical student at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Along with my long hours of studying, I’m one of the Assistant Directors of Social Work at the Robert R. Frank Student Run Free Clinic and the Vice President of the Islamic Medical Student Association. I also am one of the volunteer coordinators for Humanism in Medicine, am a mentor for first year medical students, and am a tour guide with the Office of Admissions. I like to keep busy.

Amal: I am a second year medical student at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine – DMC campus, so Wafa and I are neighbors. I am currently involved in molecular biology research and I’m a teaching assistant for one of the first year classes. I also am active with the student pediatrics and neurology groups, a volunteer at Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, and I’m a Peer Mentor for first year medical students.

Does your career/volunteer work relate to what you studied at UM-Dearborn or is your degree in a totally different field? 

Wafa: My career doesn’t relate to what I studied at UM-D but I intended it to be that way. I loved both the Chemistry and the English programs and I knew that I might not get another chance to explore these vastly different fields. While I may not use the material I learned directly, the skills I obtained have been uniquely advantageous in how I problem-solve and approach various topics in medicine.

Amal: My degrees have definitely helped me in medical school, both as foundational knowledge for my classes and for shaping my thinking, reasoning, and interpersonal interactions.  At UM-Dearborn I tended to lean toward academic endeavors (research, tutoring, mentoring) and I’ve continued to do the same at MSUCOM and in planning for my future career as a physician.

Looking back at the classes you took, pick out one of your favorites and tell why. 

Wafa: I really enjoyed Dr. James Hetrick’s Physics 151 course, especially the lab and his demonstrations. He’s such a dedicated instructor and, after helping him set up lab courses, I came to really appreciate the time and effort he puts into each class he teaches. Another great one was Great Books: Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Dr. Scott DeGregorio would read to us in Old English, which was amazing. It was one of the first classes I took at UM-D and was part of the reason I became an English major.

Amal: One of my favorite classes was Bioinorganic Chemistry with Dr. Sheila Smith. It was a seminar-type course with a class size of about 12 students. We were given baseline chemistry knowledge at the beginning of the course, and then spent the remainder of the semester exploring the scientific literature to learn about cutting edge technologies and having guest lectures discuss their research with us. Another one of my favorites was Social Psychology with Dr. Robert Hymes. That was such a fun class, and Dr. Hymes made it that way. He is a very animated and engaging professor, and he pushed us to think for ourselves and to constantly question our surroundings.

If there was a “favorite” professor(s), let us know and why. 

Wafa: I think since I had two majors I am allowed to choose a favorite professor in each discipline. I wouldn’t have made it this far without the combined support of Dr. Caitlin Finlayson and Dr. Mark DeCamp. Both of them were my advisors and greatly influence my decision to pursue my degrees. They also helped me through the medical school application process and I will never be able to thank them for all their support and guidance. I also need to mention Linda Grimm, who was my very first boss and the greatest one I could possibly ask for. People are lucky to have one solid mentor in their lives. What am I to have had three truly exceptional ones?

Amal:  My favorite professors would have to be Dr. Peter Oelkers in biochemistry and Dr. Arlo Clark-Foos in psychology. Both of them were professors for my classes, my academic advisors, and my research mentors. Dr. Oelkers always wanted us to synthesize what we’ve learned to solve complex problems, which is so relevant in the clinical setting. Dr. Clark-Foos was just the definition of cool and calm; he would ask each of his lab students what area of psychology they were interested in, and then help them get research experience in that area. I also have to give a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Mark DeCamp, who was a great driving force in helping me get to where I am today. These professors have truly left their mark on this UM-D alum’s life.