Ahmed Ahmed jokes that his first and last name are the same for two reasons: because he was born at a tumultuous time, in a Kenyan refugee camp after his family fled the Somalian civil war, and because he was the last of eight children. “You get what you get,” he said.
Eventually, his family wound up moving to Rochester, Minn., the Mayo Clinic’s hometown. Ahmed was a below-average student until seventh grade, when his dad, who had moved back to Kenya, fell sick and passed away. The family never really found out what had happened. That sparked Ahmed’s initial interest in medicine, which Rochester further fed. “If you ever had any even thread of interest in medicine, you couldn’t have asked to be in a better place,” he said.
He made it to Cornell University, but barely: He arrived at 1 a.m. in a taxi from Syracuse paid for with $200 he borrowed from his sister, and slept on a towel from his luggage in his dorm room. Ahmed says he started out struggling — receiving the first C+ he’d gotten in years — but ended strong, winning a Rhodes scholarship to go to Oxford University. There, he earned a master’s in public policy and gained a newfound love for understanding how policy shapes the medical workforce and pipeline.
As a medical student and now a resident, he’s studied the impact of unionization on health care workers. In the future, he wants to keep doing patient care, while also helping to shape the future of medicine and health care with public policy work.
— Brittany Trang