Connecting social justice to the medical profession

August 24, 2020

Scholarship support empowered College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters graduate Hebah Reda to pursue her passions and enhance the wellbeing of minority communities.

Recent College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (CASL) graduate Hebah Reda (‘20 B.S.) is devoted to treating everyone with empathy and respect and believes that the medical profession has the power to break barriers and bridge the gaps between communities. She knew UM-Dearborn was the perfect place to pursue her passion and gain the necessary experience to achieve her dream of becoming a socially aware physician and creating a healthier and more well-informed community.

“I chose to attend the University of Michigan-Dearborn because I value the vibrancy and humility that comes with engaging in a diverse community,” she explains. “Growing up in New York and Lebanon, diversity is central to the experiences that have made me the person I am today. I knew that being a student at UM-Dearborn would allow me to continue to interact and learn from the diverse experiences of others to grow both as an individual and aspiring physician.”

In addition to the diverse campus community, Reda was particularly drawn to “the collaborative environment among students and faculty within small class sizes” and the opportunities offered that would allow her to gain more experience to prepare her for a successful medical career. “When choosing to attend, I was beginning to build my path towards mentorship and leadership in a supportive and inclusive community. UM-Dearborn is the ideal outlet to be both a leader and lifelong learner while pursuing your career goals,” she says.

Her goal to be an inclusive leader and physician also played a significant role in her choice of major. “Pursuing biological sciences as my major stemmed from my interest in a unifying principle across all societies, our humanity. Despite divisive climates, we are bound by our shared human identity,” she says.

Reda is thankful for the scholarship support she received. “When I received the Sidell Slosberg Sorscher and Samuel Sorscher Memorial Scholarship, CASL Alumni Affiliate Scholarship and Dr. Linda Fisher Memorial Endowed Scholarship, I was overcome with humility, appreciation, and gratitude,” she says. 

As the eldest of four children and the daughter of immigrants, she has “an internal tendency to work incredibly hard to prove to both myself and society at large that I am capable of success.” Upon receiving these scholarships, she says she immediately thought of her parents because the scholarships gave her “a means of slightly returning the favor for all the sacrifices they make for my siblings and me.”

Reda views this support as greater than just herself; it also allows her to continue making an impact in the community and inspires her to help other students in the future. “The scholarships served as a reminder that I have a responsibility to continue my work and fulfill my passions to best serve those in need,” she says. “Reducing the financial burden helped me focus more on my academics and spend more time focusing on my non-profit, research, and service work.”

Reda’s career aspirations are the driving force behind her studies and she is confident that her coursework has prepared her to accomplish her goals. “As an aspiring physician, I wanted to build a strong foundation for a career in medicine by educating myself on the principles of human nature that lie at the core of our unique human experiences,” she explains.

To ensure she had the educational background to make an impact, Reda didn’t limit her studies to the traditional pre-med courses, but expanded her education to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subjects that are necessary to achieve her goals. This included earning a place in the Honors Program and supplementing her major with classes focused on politics and social justice. 

She credits Associate Professor of Political Science Michael Rosano and Professor of Political Science Ronald Stockton for nurturing her interests and shaping her career plan. “My decision to become an interdisciplinary physician with a passion for politics and social justice is because of Professor Rosano and Professor Stockton, two professors I am humbled to have been taught and guided by,” she says.

“Professor Rosano is the reason that I have a passion for politics because he showed me the path towards thinking critically and analytically through the core foundations of justice,” she adds. “After taking a course with him my freshmen year, I was motivated to pursue a minor in law and society.”

She also notes Professor Stockton’s influence both in the classroom and in her activism. “Professor Ronald Stockton reminded me of the importance of narrative representation and interdisciplinary learning. Partaking in the Michigan Model Arab League, he played a key role in my interest in Middle Eastern politics as he guided me on how to be a diplomatic and politically astute leader,” she says, adding that he “taught me the importance of a holistic method of learning and reminded me that I have a responsibility to vocalize vulnerable narratives.”

The knowledge and skills she’s acquired during her time at UM-Dearborn have prepared Reda for a successful career and she’s eager to positively impact patients’ lives. “I am currently applying to medical school and hope to pursue a career in medicine as an interdisciplinary, culturally competent physician, leader and advocate. I want to improve the health outcomes of Arab Americans and minority populations through education, empowerment, and advocacy,” she says.

Her passion for social justice has informed her plans for her future medical career as she hopes to be a public health advocate. “I see myself as a physician dedicated to improving community health and tailoring medical care to unique needs by choosing to treat patients as products of their social experience,” she explains. “As a physician, I aspire to serve underserved and underrepresented populations to develop health literacy and responsibility.”

Reda appreciates the essential role UM-Dearborn played in her journey to achieve her goals. As she begins the next chapter on her way to becoming a physician, she is grateful for the support that helped her get this far. “I would like to thank the scholarship donors in the UM-Dearborn community for serving as reminders for students like myself that our work does not go unnoticed and that we have the potential to be advocates, leaders, and dedicated members in our communities,” she says.

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