Why learning in a diverse environment is crucial to our success

We can do some great things learning on our own, but when we put our minds together, I believe we can accomplish that which we’ve set out to do.

I grew up in Long Island, New York. My parents are Egyptian immigrants. While obtaining my undergraduate degree at City College in Manhattan, I studied abroad in China and the Dominican Republic. After graduation, I participated in a mission trip to Egypt, seeing the exact community that my parents came from, and the apartment where they were born. I then participated in the Whitaker Fellowship in Australia where I researched spine biomechanics, which allowed me to travel to Portugal, Spain and Dubai.

Now, I’m one of 32 students at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine seeking to revolutionize healthcare delivery. We’re applying our analytical minds and quantitative skill sets to dream up and develop new solutions to health care’s greatest challenges. Every day we roll up our sleeves in pursuit of improving the human condition.

We’re facing a challenging task. But, I firmly believe this: There is no way we could get there if we were all the same.

If we’re going to challenge the status quo in medicine, we need different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences. If we’re going to deliver high quality, empathetic patient care, we need to be immersed in a community of people who are not like us, who can stretch our understanding of the human experience and expand our scope of reality. It’s the heart of diversity, and it’s a game changer as we link arms in our ambitious pursuits.

And while we each bring a breadth of identities and experiences to the table, there is a unique thread that is weaving us together: each of us was born with an exceptional degree of creativity and curiosity within us. And that reality has been the most motivating part of my Carle Illinois experience so far. I know we will do amazing things on our own, but when you put us in one room and we can talk through problems together, it’s priceless. You can’t learn these experiences in a textbook. I believe that my everyday experience of being with these people, with these kinds of ideas, in this kind of environment will truly impact the way I innovate in medicine.

Coming from New York, I’m shocked by the diversity of this mid-sized Midwestern community. There are people from all over the world at this school. It’s a small town, but it still feels really big.

And on a micro-level, my classmates are representative of what I’ve experienced at the university as a whole. Every single one brings a unique perspective, opinion, knowledge base, and skill set to the table. No two of us are the same. It’s already taught me the benefit of collaboration, which is a crucial understanding as I pursue this future in medicine. We can do some great things learning on our own, but when we put our minds together, I believe we can accomplish that which we’ve set out to do.

My sister says, “Teamwork divides the task, but multiplies the success.” Being together, we’re going to be much stronger.

Christina Moawad