It’s a day that every medical student dreams about – the day they graduate from medical school and become a doctor. For me, it still seems like a faraway dream as I have just completed the second year of my six-year Medicine degree with the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI). But, last week I had a glimpse into my future as I witnessed my brother, Zeid, my cousin, Ahmad, and their friends graduate at the RCSI Conferring Ceremony.
I came to Ireland in 2014 to start my international studies. My brother, Zeid, and cousin, Ahmad, were both in their 3rd year studying Medicine at RCSI. Having both attended DIFC previously, I tried my best to grab as much advice possible from them in regards on what to do and not to do in my first year in Ireland. I saw them through the ups and the downs, sleepless nights and long never-ending weeks of intensive study. DIFC gave me the opportunity and the drive to strive for more.
Soon I’ll be starting my 3rd year of Medicine at RCSI.
I have been class rep in my studies for 3 years in a row and am an active member of RCSI’s Student Union – none of which would have happened without the support of my personal tutor in DIFC. These little things matter, sometimes we take them for granted and sometimes we ignore them. But, I am lucky enough to be in such a prestigious college surrounded with great educators and friends.
And so, at the RCSI Conferring Ceremony, I saw what could be possible in the near future where both my brother and cousin graduated with high marks and equipped with skills and experiences that they would never have imagined before. To what the future holds, we don’t know but we strive and wish for the best and we celebrate today.
The ceremony was held in Dublin’s Convention Centre. At 3pm, all the “Doctors” were gathered with their families and friends taking photographs that would last for a lifetime. I was on photographer duty for most of the night, which meant that I didn’t sit much throughout the whole thing. But, it gave me a better perspective of the event, so much so, that some people even thought that I was an RCSI photographer and asked me to take photos of them and their families! I also had the opportunity to document the reciting of the physician’s oath, where more than 270 students become doctors right in front of my eyes. It was that sacred moment for them that sealed everything they worked for in the past 5/6 years.
Among the 270 students graduating last week, were a small number of students who started their journey with the International Foundation Year – Health Science programme offered at DIFC. So, I decided to ask each of them how DIFC helped them to get this point in their Medical career.
“At times of great achievements, one can’t help but think of all the people that helped him get to this point. DIFC wasn’t only the foundation that provided me with the momentum and tools that enabled me to peruse my studies in medicine with a competitive edge, it provided me with a community of friends and mentors that supported me throughout my journey of change, growth and education.”
Zeid Rifai, Jordan
“Having the academic basics and foundation to chase your dreams is necessary, I agree. But, I for one didn’t need that at all – I found something far more valuable during my days in DIFC – the foundation of social interaction and college life which gave me the opportunity to make solid friendships that last a life time.”
Reem Amman, UAE
“Thank you DIFC for providing a fantastic platform to kick-start this journey. Eternally Grateful!”
Lenin Patrick Ekpotu, Nigeria
“I still remember my first day at DIFC. I can’t think of a better start to my academic journey. A group of students from all across the world, still brand new to Dublin. To list everything I gained from my year there, would be impossible. From the wealth of knowledge I received to the incredible friendships that blossomed. Thank you DIFC for giving me a strong foundation to build the rest of my life on.”
Ahmad Al-Rimawi, Saudi Arabia
A real personal highly for me, was the opportunity to meet Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-American Physician, Forensic Pathologist, and Neuropathologist who was the first to discover chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players. He later became the Chief Medical Examiner and Professor for San Joaquin County, California and University of California respectively. If you’re not sure who I am talking about – he was played by Will Smith in the movie, Concussion!!! A great movie to watch and a great story. I would have never thought in my life that one day I would be meeting such a figure – somebody who has had a film written about their work – and had Will Smith play his character!
RCSI has opened so many doors for me and none of this would have been possible if it were not for my family, friends and those who helped me get through it all including my high school teachers and especially the year I spent in DIFC.
Written by Ali Rifai
DIFC Student Ambassador
Currently studying Medicine at Royal College of Surgeons Ireland