Graduating high school senior aspires to be a doctor amid coronavirus pandemic

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Amid the nonstop news surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Saja Almogalli aspires to become a doctor. 

For the last couple of years, she shadowed doctors and nurses during their shifts in the emergency room. Now, watching and reading about healthcare workers working during the pandemic has also pushed her more.

“Seeming them right now putting their lives on the line, it means a lot to me,” said Almogalli, a senior at Burlington High School.

For Almogalli, wanting to be a doctor hits close to home. When she was 11 or 12, living in her home country of Iraq, her father got in a car accident. While they were able to bring him to a nearby hospital, there was no immediate medical support they could provide him.

“He was waiting for a surgeon for almost 3 hours,” Almogalli said. Her father eventually died. 

“From that moment, I knew I wanted to do something that helped people like my dad to survive.”

Almogalli and her family resettled in the United States in 2017. She hopes to return to Iraq one day and run her own hospital. 

Almogalli is finishing her senior year dual-enrolled at the Winooski campus of Community College of Vermont. Taking on a full college course load was the challenge she knew she needed to move closer to becoming a surgeon.

Like many of her friends, she’s excited about starting college, but the prospect of not having a graduation ceremony to celebrate their achievements is disappointing. For now, Almogalli is just waiting on her diploma to arrive in the mail.

More personal stories: How Vermonters are facing life in the coronavirus era

Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or ebakuli@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.

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