Pipeline program: VCU Acceleration (2009)
Year in school: Third year medical student in the VCU School of Medicine
High school/hometown: Osbourne Park High School, Manassas, VA.
Interview Date: Summer 2015
Making a difference, impacting surrounding communities and improving lives are not just goals or mantras, but are the examples set by Qasim Kazmi over the last six years as both an undergraduate and health professions student at VCU. By the time he was in high school Kazmi knew that he wanted to become a physician and wasted no time in volunteering at a free clinic. It was through this experience that Kazmi found that,
“medicine was my passion and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; nothing else could possibly compare,” he recalled.
With this goal in mind, Kazmi embarked on his undergraduate career starting with VCU Acceleration, drawn in by the resources offered by the program, especially the living-learning community where Acceleration students lived together on the same floor and took important health professions prerequisite classes together.
“[I]t was a big support network where we all constantly pushed each other to work harder and reach our goals,” reminisced Kazmi.
The interdisciplinary aspect of Acceleration was in line with Kazmi’s perception of successful healthcare. Exploring and reinforcing this concept inspired Kazmi and his peers to create a student-led service organization called Emerging Healthcare Leaders (EHL) at VCU. EHL brought students across multiple disciplines together to provide health education outreach and fundraising in the Richmond area, and has since been recognized by the university and awarded a Quest Innovation grant, which allowed the organization to become a national model for other universities.
A VCU RAM through and through, Kazmi not only helped EHL grow to what it is today, but he also assisted in organizing the Official Class Ring Ceremony, served as a resident assistant, Muslim Student Association social chair, and participated as a mentor and interned with VCU’s Emerging Leaders Program. After graduating from the College of Humanities and Sciences with his Biology degree, Kazmi entered the VCU School of Medicine (SOM) through the Preferred Applicant program where he continues to find ways to interact not only with his local community but is also making a global impact through REACH4GHANA. Kazmi organized and raised funds for village water purification systems and participated in a recent medical service trip to provide care and health education in rural regions of Ghana. Even with his service abroad, Kazmi has a strong dedication to combat the health disparities he sees in his own country.
“I passionately believe it is unacceptable that …we have millions [of people who] have to choose between essentials like feeding their family or getting a check up on a health concern… There is a great deal of work still left to do.”
Now in his final two years, Kazmi will complete medical school rotations in the VCU SOM’s Fairfax INOVA campus while deciding what area of medicine to specialize in. Whether Kazmi chooses to practice pediatrics or internal medicine, he is certain about his commitment to the larger scope of healthcare and continues to look for ways to combat health disparities by increasing access to care while not sacrificing quality.