A L U M N I P R O F I L E Huda Sayed, MD ’11: A Second Home at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School T A he earliest memories of Huda Sayed, MD ’11, are helping her father in his clinic in Ethiopia. She was passionate about medicine throughout her childhood, with a clear desire to become a physician someday. After immigrating to the United States at age 17, she was self-conscious about her accent, and her undergraduate science courses were more challenging than she expected. The teenager realized she was going to need more than passion to fulfill her dream. s an undergraduate student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, she found that college was a breeze—until she started biochemistry. “The class shook me to my core,” Dr. Sayed shares. “It was incredibly challenging, which scared me—school had always been my strength until now.” During her freshman year, she met Kamal Khan, MD, director, Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences, who helps students of diverse backgrounds pursue careers in health care. Dr. Khan encouraged her to apply to the J I L L I A N P R I O R B Y Biomedical Careers Program (BCP) to better prepare her. “Early in our relationship, I discovered Huda Sayed doesn’t give up. I knew she would be an amazing physician with the help of the program,” he says. Founded in 1978, BCP is an academic enrichment program for undergraduate students who are from a group underrepresented in medicine, or come from an economically disadvantaged background, and are interested in science careers. The six-week summer program is sponsored by Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University, and the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund. For Dr. Sayed, the most meaningful aspect of BCP was enabling her to believe in herself. Program staff, mentors, and volunteers are often BCP alumni or people from similar backgrounds. She greatly benefited from hearing about their similar struggles and how they overcame barriers. “I was devastated that my lifelong dream of medicine was over until I met people who said, ‘I am like you, I went through what you did, and I succeeded,’” she says. These shared experiences motivated Dr. Sayed by making her journey in medicine feel “doable.” The program also built her confidence by not just encouraging but requiring the students to speak up, in a small setting of only 20 of them. “When I came to the U.S. at age 17, I could never imagine talking in front of people, or giving a speech,” says Dr. Sayed. “BCP forced me out of my comfort zone and peeled back another layer of myself. Now I regularly give motivational talks and speeches.” After she met many faculty and students of the medical school through BCP, it was an obvious choice for her. “Robert Wood Johnson Medical 38 Robert Wood Johnson I MEDICINE