Hawa Ali is an exceptional student who continually engages in civic, social and health equality initiatives in Rochester - specifically within the Somali community. Hawa is currently a member of the Somali Health Advisory Committee, which is a local initiative to help the Somali community identify health-related issues as well as cost-effective and appropriate solutions through community events. Hawa is also currently working on her own research project which is titled "Hepatocellular Carcinoma Characteristics and Outcomes Among Somali Immigrants." Her project abstract has been accepted to the 8th American Association of Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial and Ethnic minorities and Medically Underserved.
As a refugee from Somalia, I experienced the negative impacts of unawareness and inequity at varying levels of societal infrastructure. These experiences sparked my desire to educate, empower and advocate for my community and other vulnerable communities. To educate my community, I serve as a program coordinator and youth mentor for a non-profit organization called Rochester International Youth Organization (RIYO). At RIYO, I aid students with coursework, provide advice and resources on how to successfully navigate the school system. To empower my community, I am a board member of the Somali Health Advisory Committee where we advise research and clinical professionals on how to properly communicate and involve the Somali community in research and health advocacy campaigns. We also sponsor community health fairs to tackle culturally relevant concerns. To advocate for my community and other vulnerable communities, I volunteer at the Salvation Army Good Samaritan Clinic where we provide quality dental care to underserved populations. Furthermore, I conduct a research study that aims to understand the outcomes of hepatocellular carcinoma in Somali immigrants. These experiences have exposed me to the varying layers of interventions necessary to tackle social issues. Therefore, I aspire to become a physician who addresses these needs.