Young Alumni Award Recipient Fakhri Remembers his CHC Years

Posted on 12/10/2010 11:29:22 AM

Dr. Abid Fakhri, the 2010 winner of the Biology Department’s Young Alumni Award, graduated from the Cook Honors College at IUP in 2003 with a B.S. in Biology and Pre-med. He went on to earn his M.D. at Drexel University, and he is currently a fellow in cardiovascular disease at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Returning to IUP on November 8, 2010, was a kind of homecoming for Dr. Fakhri, who sees the Cook Honors College (CHC) and Whitmyre Hall as “my Hogwarts.” During his four years at IUP, he felt he was a part of a family comprised of his fellow CHC students, as well as his Honors Core professors. It became evident how truly at home he still feels here when he helped set up the shot for his interview: he scooped up the Great Hall’s bust of Plato and positioned it neatly between the arm chairs usually occupied by chess players. With his wife looking on, and their baby daughter practicing her spitting (a recently discovered skill) in the background, he sat down to talk about just what the CHC means to him.

“I know how to write… academic-quality publications. I know how to present. I know how to talk… whether it’s one-on-one or in public, and those are all skills that were nurtured here. I know how to read a piece of literature, an academic publication, and think critically about it… all of those skills came from here [the CHC].”

The CHC taught him how to take charge of his education to make it work for him. He learned very quickly that it’s not all about going to class and taking notes; a big part of receiving an education is making things happen for yourself, and that’s exactly what Dr. Fakhri did. Thanks to the encouragement of his peers and professors, he went the extra mile in extracurricular work by doing his own research the summer after his freshman year.

Dr. Fakhri also felt right at home at Drexel University, where M.D. students are taught to take a humanistic approach to practicing medicine. His previous education at the CHC prepared him to not only think about things critically, but also humanely. Already having that “basic skill set” of critical thinking, writing, public speaking, and teamwork, thanks to the CHC, put Dr. Fakhri miles ahead of his fellow M.D. students.

All these experiences led him to his training at the University of Pittsburgh. By the time he got to Pittsburgh, he was ready to take on the challenges he would face there. Many of the CHC’s students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate career. It’s during that time abroad that many of them discover their true passions. Dr. Fakhri had a similar experience working as a doctor in India for six months. On the one hand, Dr. Fakhri ended up right where he expected: practicing medicine. However, his dream evolved into something new: “In some respects, yeah, I have an M.D. after my name, I see patients, but my interests have broadened significantly.”

Watch the interview.

By Theresa Hoffmann and Wendy Leuenberger