Senior Success: Fawzi Massouh ’21, student from war-torn Syria, found home at Salve Regina
Editor’s Note: SALVEtoday is celebrating the Class of 2021’s Senior Week with specially curated content Monday, May 3 through Friday, May 7. Senior Week will be devoted to sharing special Senior Success stories and other content relevant to the Class of 2021. Check back each day to read stories about Salve Regina’s incredible seniors. For more Class of 2021 stories, go here.
In 2011, a massive war broke out in Syria, the home country of Fawzi Massouh ’21.
“I was twelve years old by then, and it killed my eagerness to enjoy the teenage years that should have been thrilling,” Massouh described of this period of his life. “My thoughts only revolved around how to survive. Throughout my experience in war, I lost friends and family members as a result of the recurring violence.”
Because of the war, the medical resources of Syria were grossly inadequate and the hospitals were constantly full beyond their capacity, according to Massouh. Many of Massouh’s friends and family could have been saved if the medical system had not been crippled, but doctors left the country because of the rising tension. The lack of physicians led to the health care system gradually failing, and Syrians were left helpless to life-threatening violence and disease.
“I was left instilled with the necessity of medical care firsthand, having witnessed the effects of its absence,” said Massouh. “My difficult childhood did not halt my perseverance and determination; rather, it made me more persistent and driven to become a doctor.”
In 2017, Massouh was fortunate to get a full tuition merit scholarship to attend Salve Regina. After four years of hard work, he has now completed his bachelor’s degree in biology, and he is planning on pursuing a career in medicine in the United States. He applied to different medical schools across the country, and he’s currently been accepted into three doctor of medicine (MD) programs so far.
“I am interested in specializing in radiology or nephrology, and I am looking forward to discovering more fields of medicine,” said Massouh.
As to his time at Salve Regina, Dr. Kimberly Curesky had the greatest impact on developing Massouh’s passion for medical education throughout her lectures. “She went to medical school, and she does not hesitate to show her passion for medicine in every human anatomy and physiology class,” he said. “Her teaching style focused on understanding how body systems are interconnected …. She always motivated me to think critically and observe conclusions on my own. I was fortunate to be her student and I am inspired by her work ethic, professionalism and commitment.”
Massouh was also given the opportunity to work on a research program for three years within the chemistry department at Salve Regina. The research focused on the early detection of skin cancer, which kills thousands of people every year.
“I was inspired … and I want to be part of a team that contributes to ending the needless suffering of so many,” he said. “The experience elicited a call to action that has remained intrinsic in my motivation to work in medicine and to do it in America.”
After losing hope of ever being settled and having a future ever again, Massouh said that he found a new home at Salve Regina.
“Finding a high-level educational opportunity was nearly impossible in Syria,” Massouh concluded. “At Salve, I met generous professors who helped me succeed socially and academically. People in this school made me realize that I am important like everyone else, they encouraged me to believe in my abilities and to achieve my goals.”