Farah Rassam, CST '18 is student graduation speaker

Farah Rassam is graduating with a bachelor of science in biology. Consistently included in the CST Dean’s List for academic excellence, she achieved a cumulative science GPA of 3.759 while at Temple University. 

Through CST’s Undergraduate Research Program, Rassam conducted research with Glenn Gerhard, chair of the Department of Medical Genetics and Molecular Biochemistry at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, in the extraction and purification of DNA and examining the function of exosomes in the blood of patients experiencing obesity. 

Rassam worked as a teaching assistant in the Chemistry Department and Arabic program and as a mathematics and general chemistry tutor at the university’s Student Success Center. As an orientation leader for Temple’s International Affairs Office, Rassam guided new international students during their first week at the university. 

Rassam is a member of the American Medical Student Association with extensive medical and dental shadowing experience. She plans to take the MCAT exam in spring 2019 and then apply to medical school with the goal of becoming an emergency room physician. 

Farah's prepared remarks for the Winter 2018 CST Graduation Ceremony:

Hello everyone

My name is Farah Rassam. I was born and raised in Iraq. My goal is to become a doctor. My commitment led me to this milestone which we are sharing and celebrating today. Allow me to give you a brief idea about what got me to this place.

Picture this with me. It’s a beautiful summer day. The hospital clock reads 10AM. Doctors and nurses are in the hallways chit-chatting about the latest news. Everything is flowing smoothly and perfectly. Suddenly, the floor starts to shake and a the next thing I felt was a piercing ringing in my ears. There has been a nearby explosion. The staff goes crazy and bodies are taken into the hospital.

As a 14-year old girl standing there between all the cries and screams, I try to make sense of what is happening. Unfortunately, this was not a one-time event. This was a weekly scene for me at that age, shadowing my dad, a surgeon, in a hospital in Baghdad. Shocking and terrifying scenes were presented to me as a kid. I felt useless around this constant chaos and hoped for a day where I could participate in this strenuous endeavor and do my duty like my father.

The world for me was a never ending battle between Good and Evil. My dream was to tip this balance toward the triumph of good. The cold truth I woke up to, early in my life, solidified my passion for emergency medicine.

I had tough experiences. I questioned my decisions numerous times. My life path was very uncertain. I earned acceptance into medical school in Iraq but then I had to flee the country when war struck my hometown. I left everything behind: my 3 years of medical school work that I already started, but, most importantly, my family, my friends, my loved ones.

I arrived to the U.S. in 2015. I had to rebuild my life from scratch. I had no parents, no social support and could barely express myself in English. I felt anxiety and depression knocking on my door, waiting for any moment of weakness. I faced these challenges, did not give up and kept going.

Fortunately, I was welcomed by Temple University, a prestigious university in Philadelphia. I was accepted, to my surprise, with all my differences. I met other bilingual international friends from all over the world. I was not alone anymore. My English improved and I gained back my confidence. I felt home once again.

My integration was quicker than I could have imagined. I started tutoring other students math and sciences. I joined Dr. Ramella as a Chemistry teaching assistant and Dr. Michel as a Chemistry lab assistant. I began  research in Temple’s medical school working on obese patients. I found purpose in my life again. I joined Mrs. Hetzell in the Office of International Programs as an International Orientation Leader intending to help everyone have an integration as smooth as mine.

I want to thank Temple University and the College of Science and Technology for their hospitality. I want to thank all the faculty for their mentoring. I want to thank all of my family and friends for their support.

I still maintain my same life purpose and I will keep fighting for it. I hope to reflect back one day and say everything was very well worth it. As Joyce Didonato once said, “One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, right here, right now, in this single, solitary, monumental moment in your life, is to decide, without apology, to commit to the journey, and not to the outcome.” Everybody dreams. Be the one who acts on it.

Today is a milestone. It tells you how far you’ve come. Keep learning, keep trying, keep accomplishing, and keep venturing on through your journey.

Congratulations and thank you everyone!