Student Highlights: Abdul Chaballout

Photo of Abdul Chaballout

Abdul Chaballout atop Libe Slope.

Major: Human biology, health and society
College: Human Ecology
Hometown: Glendora, Calif.

Why did you choose Cornell?
Despite my acceptance to Cornell as a freshman, I went to the University of California-Los Angeles. After my sophomore year, I realized that the interdisciplinary program offered at the College of Human Ecology was too great to neglect, and, thus, I decided to transfer.

Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
Serving as the "native speaker of Arabic" in Cornell's Language House. As I proactively aid other students in reaching fluency and mastery of Arabic, I strive to simultaneously create a cultural dialogue true to my upbringing as an American Muslim of Arab descent. Participating in various cultural events and discussions on the Middle East, we have since recognized the trivial role of ethnic affiliation with regard to coexistence. In this way, I have explored and risen to the challenge of facilitating smooth, humane interactions that transcend the norms of culture and language.

Most profound turning point while at Cornell?
In my independent research with Professor Wendy Williams, I have been exploring the possibility of reversing negative societal attitudes and perceptions held toward American Muslims in hopes of promoting a more inclusive America. With the strong possibility of publication ahead, the research has allowed me to take the issues that are most instrumental in driving me as a member of the American Muslim community to the next level in the form of academic exploration.

While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
Invited to give a presentation on telemedicine (using telecommunications technology for diagnostic purposes) at an American medical conference in Damascus, Syria. This opportunity gave me a chance to apply and share the market research I had done on telemedicine. Furthermore, I was contributing my work on an international level, utilizing my fluency in the Arabic language and my familiarity with the norms of Middle Eastern society for the benefit of all.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
Leading a research project in Dubai with a few colleagues from the Language House, I explored the rapid economic advancements in the United Arab Emirates and its subsequent effect on such facets of life as tradition and culture. Interviewing Dubai's first contractor, meeting the ruler of Sharjah (Sheikh Sultan) and skiing at a mall in the middle of the desert were eye-opening experiences for me.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
This summer, I will attend Stanford's Summer Institute for General Management. I also await word from the Fulbright Commission for a one-year project in Jordan to devise a strategy for implementing advancements in telemedicine. I also await responses from various medical schools.
I now have the grand plan of complementing my M.D. with an MBA and becoming an entrepreneur. I hope to fuel the growth and development of telemedicine in such a way that it introduces innovation into the rigid world of health care and increases access to health care on a new level.