Image of Medical Student Abbie ZewduFirst-year medical student Abbie Zewdu has found a home at Ohio State.

The second youngest of six children, Abbie immigrated to the United States with her family in 1990, after fleeing the communist regime, first from Ethiopia and then from the Sudan. Determined to make a new life for themselves in America, a new country thousands of miles from their homeland, the family settled in Columbus, Ohio, a place Abbie would come to know as “home.”

Having only attended elementary school, but understanding the value of education, Abbie’s parents encouraged their children to attend college. Abbie obliged by heading off to Ohio State to obtain an undergraduate degree in microbiology and molecular genetics. Pursuing her interest in science and research, she entered Ohio State’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, during which time she made an unexpected discovery – that she was developing an interest in patient care and began wondering about conducting biomedical science research that can translate into patient care. Realizing she could have a greater impact on patients’ lives by serving them both at the bench top and at the bed side, Abbie decided that she needed to obtain a medical degree.

Today, as a first-year medical student, Abbie is discovering the many ways to combine her interest in research with clinical practice. She has recently become interested in reconstructive surgery, but knowing she has a lot to discover over the next four years, she says she wants to keep her options open.

And there are plenty of options for Abbie at Ohio State. While some may find Ohio State’s sheer size to be intimidating, Abbie finds it stimulating. “Even though I did my undergraduate and graduate work at Ohio State, it still felt like there was so much more to discover.” In the MD program, she is impressed at how well new concepts and topics are integrated into the course curriculum and the number of information sessions that show students what resources are available outside of academia, such as community health- and mental health-related resources.

One of Abbie’s graduate school mentors, Dr. Rafael Pollock, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, “opened my eyes to the breadth of resources that were available to me at Ohio State,” says Abbie, “and connected me with other mentors who became a crucial part of my success as a student at Ohio State.” One of those connections was Joanna Groden, PhD, who at the time was the associate dean for research and co-director of the Biomedical Science Graduate Program at The Ohio State University College of Medicine (currently at University of Illinois at Chicago). Dr. Groden became a strong female role model for Abbie and supported her throughout her graduate program. Abbie acknowledges these connections as rare opportunities opening doors for her that, otherwise, may well have remained closed.

Abbie says she “loves the vibe” at Ohio State, which has an “energy and atmosphere” that she finds stimulating but comfortable. “No matter where you go you are going to run into someone who currently goes to OSU or has family here,” she notes. For Abbie, Ohio State has given her a “home away from home.”