Irada Mamukadze knows what it’s like to live with minimal resources, including barriers to education. Now, the former Russian refugee is thriving as a rising third-year College of Medicine student who was nominated for the NEOMED College of Medicine Tutor of the Year Award during the 2018-19 academic year. But the Northeast Ohio Medical University student remembers coming to the United States in 2005 and crying to her mother in the middle of a grocery store, explaining how badly she wanted to go to school.
As it turned out, a woman standing nearby also spoke Russian and could understand the pair’s entire conversation in the grocery aisle. That sympathetic bystander just so happened to be an advisor at a local community college, and soon after that first meeting, she helped Mamukadze enroll at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.
While working toward a degree in nursing, Mamukadze supported herself by serving as an interpreter at local hospitals and family practices. She can speak four languages — English, Turkish (her native language), Russian and Uzbek – and as a nursing student, she put her skills to use by interpreting for surgeries and in the family practice of a local physician family practice.
“I liked how I felt when I was working as an interpreter and being able to help the the doctors, so I decided I was going to try to advance myself and become a doctor myself,” says Mamukadze.
An appealing atmosphere
Last year, Mamukadze did research on the brain with Dana Peterson, Ph.D., an associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology. She also served as a peer adviser and tutored fellow College of Medicine students.
Throughout her experiences in Rootstown, Mamukadze has been especially thankful for one thing: NEOMED’s atmosphere of encouraging students to be active learners. She explains, “I like how the teachers interact with their students. The professors want to discuss and explain questions we may have. Even if it’s a question from the exam, they’ll let us challenge their questions,” says Mamukadze. For example, there’s one time that particularly stands out in her memory.
“When we were learning about renal blocks (a blocked kidney), the content and quizzes were really hard, but Dr. Niehaus encouraged us to challenge the questions, including a very hard question. I did research, sent it to him and he ended up giving me the credit. Guess what? That same question ended up on my Step 1 exam and I felt so content knowing I was confident in my answer.”
From arriving in the United States, unable to speak English, to excelling in medical school, Mamukadze surely has plenty to be proud of.