Rana Elgazzar has had a close look at other parts of the world. She was born in Egypt, but spent her early years living in Japan.
“Japanese was my first language,” she says, “but we left when I was about 7 years old, so I lost my ability to speak and write in Japanese. Now, when I look at things I wrote back then, I have no idea what they say.”
Next came a move to the United States, where the family lived in Colorado and North Carolina before settling in Johnson City.
When she graduated from high school, many of her fellow students headed away from Johnson City, but Elgazzar wasn’t ready to leave.
“I had developed an interest in health sciences in high school,” she explains, “and I met college students who told me about the opportunities available at East Tennessee State University. When I was offered a University Honors Scholarship, that made the choice even easier.”
In her freshman year, Elgazzar had a life-changing experience when she attended the Dr. Brenda White Wright Emerging Leaders Academy.
“The philosophy of servant leadership gave me a new view of what it takes to be a leader,” says Elgazzar. “I learned that the success you achieve as a leader is defined by the success you bring to others. And, the diverse group of students attending the Academy with me helped me understand many social issues, hearing their stories and seeing the world through their eyes. I learned to really care about what was important to other people, and their triumph became a part of my own.”
Elgazzar learned her lessons about leadership well. She is the president of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, as well as of the Honors College Student Council. In addition, she will be managing Civility Week during the spring semester.
During her early years at ETSU, Elgazzar became inspired by the World Health Organization quotation in the entry to Lamb Hall.
“I walk by there nearly every day,” she says, “and I am reminded that health is more than the absence of disease, but encompasses many needs, like social and emotional well-being. It is precisely this idea of health that has clarified my plans in the medical field.
“I love science and I love mathematics. I study these subjects every day. But to me, data and graphs are more powerful when I understand and improve the human lives behind the numbers. My goal for the future is to earn an M.D. degree to allow me to tend to the needs of individuals, and also a master of public health degree to give me the skill set to impact community health and well-being.”
Elgazzar is glad she chose ETSU because of the unique opportunities, especially for meaningful involvement, available to undergraduates. “And,” she notes, “the faculty is outstanding. Whatever your interests, the campus community will guide and challenge you while encouraging you to leave your mark. Faculty members – to involved students – are living examples, who demonstrate the answers to questions like ‘What does dedication look like? What does passion look like?’”
Elgazzar is doing her best to follow those examples.