TAREK KHADER: When I was 10 years old, I remember everyone sitting around the television in my house watching a Palestinian child and his father huddle behind a barrel, attempting to shield themselves from bullets. The boy looked like me and was not much older than I was. This was the first time I understood the insecurity of what it meant to be a Palestinian.
My parents are both Palestinian refugees. My mother's family fled to Jordan and was granted citizenship there. She had freedom of movement, which allowed her to live in the United States. My father, on the other hand, ended up in Iraq. His nationality was marked Palestinian, giving him tremendously limited opportunities for education, work, and movement. My sister and I were lucky enough to be born in the US, bu my father was not able to join us due to his status. So when we were young, my mom brought us back to Iraq in an attempt to live together with him as a family.
In 1990, the Gulf War broke out, and my parents ultimately decided to split our family. My mom, my sister, and I moved back to the US. After six years of struggle with immigration, my father was finally able to reunite with us in Philadelphia.
Growing up in Philly, my parents worked very hard to provide for us. And in turn, my sister and I helped them navigate a country and language that they were not familiar with. When I was a senior in high school, my mother was diagnosed with MS. I was devastated by this. We spent the next few years visiting specialists. We struggled to find a physician that could break through the culture and language barriers and treat her with the compassion that I thought she deserved.
It was this experience that inspired me to pursue medicine. I wanted to care for patients with the kind of empathy I wished for my mother. When applying to medical school, I wanted to stay local to keep an eye out for my parents. Weill Cornell was my number one choice, not only for the academic rigor I knew I could find there but also because of the scholarships I was offered. I knew I could succeed academically at Weill Cornell, and all I needed was the chance to do so. I'm so thankful to my scholarship donors for providing me with that opportunity.
We need to make sure not to ligate the ovarian artery or ovarian vein.
As I was exposed to different specialties, I discovered the joy of bringing new life into the world and decided to pursue a career in OB/GYN. This field combines the art of medicine with the technical skills of surgery. I want to be a holistic doctor for women and build long-term relationships with my patients. I matched into residency at Yale for OB/GYN. I wouldn't have been able to do it without the amazing education I got from Weill Cornell.
My parents have sacrificed so much for me to be able to reach this point in my life. I feel a responsibility to live my life with purpose-- to honor them and to honor the journey that has brought us here.
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Tarek Khader’s family is his inspiration. By becoming a doctor, he honors his parents’ sacrifices as Palestinian refugees, striving to become the kind of caring physician he would have wanted for his mother when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.