Practicing Perseverance: Eesha Zaheer

There’s one thing Eesha Zaheer has carried with her all the way from Northwestern University in Chicago to Northeast Ohio Medical University – the spirit of caring for others.

Whether she’s serving at NEOMED’s SOAR Student-Run Free Clinic, serving on the NEOMED Foundation Board, or volunteering as a tutor and peer advisor, this College of Medicine student wants to better the lives of those around her.

“At Northwestern, I started an organization called MEDLIFE where we provided medicine, education and sustainable development to third-world countries. After traveling on medical missions to Panama and Ghana to implement health care projects, I developed a passion to become globally engaged with underserved communities. MEDLIFE carved my interest in public health and policy, and NEOMED offered me a gateway opportunity to be able to incorporate my passion for serving underserved populations in medicine,” says Zaheer.

Putting people first

It was the NEOMED-Cleveland State University Partnership for Urban Health that drew Zaheer to NEOMED. Now, she’s building on that foundation by volunteering at the SOAR Student-Run Free Clinic.

“Staying connected in clinical settings helps remind me why I chose to do medicine in the first place. Day to day, we are so inundated with information and study for hours in the library. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the relevance of what we’re learning in the classroom, but when I go to the Clinic and I see a patient behind the door, it reminds me of why I’m here and that what I’m doing is for a higher purpose,” says Zaheer.

Her involvement in the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health also drove her to start her own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that delivers warm gear around the globe to places such as SOS Children’s Villages in Syria and Jordan, as well as serving local federally qualified health centers in Cleveland.

Her service to others isn’t limited to the underserved.  Zaheer also dedicates time each week to supporting her peers.

Guiding others along the way

As a tutor and peer advisor, Zaheer helps first-year College of Medicine find a balance between their academic, personal and professional lives.

“Medical school presents a lot of unique challenges. My mom is a pediatrician, and she has been my biggest supporter and driving force. She always stressed the importance of keeping my head high and being resilient in all situations, so as a tutor and peer advisor, I want to pass along that same message. I want to help the next generation of medical students unleash their full potential and understand how to apply what they are learning in the classroom. Just because there might be a certain hardship at hand, it doesn’t mean they can’t overcome it,” she explains.

Zaheer keeps a note tucked away on her desk that says, “Keep your intentions pure and your faith strong, and no effort is ever gone wasted.”

Setting goals for the future

With her goal of becoming a pediatrician in the future, Zaheer has found herself drawn to NEOMED’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics - Pediatric Action Club.

“For me, there’s always been something about working with children that fills a special place in my heart that I haven’t found anywhere else. There will be situations in the field of pediatrics that will be difficult to deal with, but I live for the small moments where I can make a difference in any child’s life. I am unwaveringly dedicated to making an impact –no matter how large or small it may be – in a child’s life every day for the rest of my life,’’ she says.

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