Zakaib turned to medicine during pandemic

Mohsen Zakaib’s path to service through medicine became clear during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Service during the pandemic forced him into new opportunities he says he wouldn’t have otherwise had.

That path has led him to the Brody School of Medicine where he was selected as a Brody Scholar in 2023 and is one of the 85 students in the class of 2027.

“I turned to medicine during the pandemic, I learned a lot about what it means to mobilize for the sake of public health,” Zakaib said. “Ultimately, this ignited the fire in me to pursue medicine.“I fell in love with the reality of service through medicine, and the next step in my career change journey was to apply to med school, and I am blessed to be accepted at Brody,” Zakaib said.

Zakaib, the son of Mohammad Zakaib and Zahida Tallat of Winston-Salem, volunteered at COVID-19 testing sites. He said the experience also provided him the opportunity to hear stories of people worried about not being able to support their families compounded by the constant worry that their loved ones may get COVID.

“These stories made me reflect upon my own blessings and the privileges that allowed me to stay afloat even during a pandemic. Although I had financial insecurities during this pandemic, I had family that could help me, while countless others faced these insecurities with no fallback plan,” he said.

He completed his undergraduate work studying nuclear engineering, with minors in anthropology and physics, at North Carolina State University in 2020 and earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from NCSU in 2021. He was a Citizenship Award finalist in the College of Engineering and served as president of Muslim Student Association at NC State.

Zakaib began work on medical prerequisites at University of North Carolina Greensboro and completed his post baccalaureate work in 2022. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies from Mishkah University in Minnesota.

Zakaib hopes to continue exploring and finding his path of service through medicine in medical school. He describes his current interest as “everything under the sun.” Emergency medicine, trauma surgery, critical care, oncology and psychiatry top the list.

Zakaib and his father Mohammad. (Contributed photo)

“I also hope to get exposed to research and contribute to it,” he said. “There are so many aspects of medicine to learn about, and I want to delve deep into learning mode so I can absorb as much as I can from my peers and faculty.”

Outside of medicine, Zakaib enjoys studying religion and learning physics. He also enjoys playing basketball, soccer, working out, and wants to try to do more scuba diving.

Being a Brody Scholar holds profound significance for Zakaib, as it represents not only a recognition of his academic achievements but provides an “incredible opportunity to pursue my dreams of becoming the best physician I can be and serving my community.”

Zakaib said the support of the Brody Scholars program has significantly eased the financial burden of a medical education and will allow him to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to his journey in medicine.

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Brody family for their generosity and support,” he said. “This scholarship provides me with the opportunity to turn (my) dream into a reality.”

Zakaib said the scholarship reinforces his sense of service to the community and inspires him to give back to society and work towards addressing health care disparities and promoting wellness within underserved communities.

“As a Brody Scholar, I am determined to make the most of this opportunity to excel in my medical studies, research and practical experiences. I want to acquire the knowledge, skills and empathy necessary to provide the best possible care to patients and make a positive impact on their lives,” Zakaib said. “As a future physician, I envision myself actively participating in outreach programs, volunteering my time and advocating for better health care access for all.”