A Team Effort: How Scholarship and Family Support Helped an Aspiring Doctor

Dalya Elhady, MD ’15, celebrates being matched to her first choice residency program with her family.

“Medicine is not just a career choice; it is a calling,” says Dalya Elhady, MD ’15.

Thanks to the Cecile and Seymour Alpert, MD, Medical School Scholarship, Dalya was able to heed that calling and make her dream of becoming a physician a reality.

“Embarking on the journey to become a physician was a long and difficult path,” she says, “but knowing that my hard work and accomplishments have been recognized through this scholarship is extremely rewarding.”

Dalya was pre-med in college but decided to become a high school biology and chemistry teacher after starting a family with her husband, Talha Nawaz. She was well suited for the position, given her strong background in the basic sciences, but Dalya realized that “as much as I loved teaching, medicine was still my passion.”

So, with the support of her husband and four children, she made the decision to change careers and pursue her dream of attending medical school.

GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was in an ideal location for Dalya because her family was already settled in Northern Virginia, but as she learned more about SMHS, she discovered all that the program had to offer: a culture of learning, collegiality, and high quality of patient care, as well as unique programs like the Medical Education and Leadership Track, which offered Dalya the opportunity to continue her interest in education within the realm of medicine.

But how did she adjust to such a dramatic change?

“Transitioning from being a teacher leading the class to sitting behind a desk as a student was a complete shift of mindset,” she remembers. “It was a freeing experience to be a student again, but it was also a humbling experience to become a novice learner after being an expert teacher.”

The decision to return to school also came with a heavy financial burden that was a source of worry for Dalya and her husband, which made the news that she was awarded the Alpert Scholarship that much sweeter.

“I was very happy to learn that I was the recipient of this esteemed scholarship! I am very thankful for the generous financial support towards my medical education,” Dalya says. “The support helped lessen the burden for my husband and me as we also try to provide for our children.”

The Alpert Scholarship is supported by the Cecile and Seymour Alpert, MD, Endowed Fund, which was established in 2008 by longtime GW physician, professor, and executive Seymour Alpert, MD, Hon. LLD ’84, and his wife, Cecile. The fund also supports the annual Dr. Seymour Alpert Lecture, which brings leading scholars to GW to discuss topics in the field of anesthesiology.

Despite the dramatic change and the rigors of medical school, Dalya excelled and managed to balance her schoolwork with her responsibilities at home. She even found she was inspired by her children. “Having a family helps me prioritize and gives me a better understanding of the reality in my patients’ lives,” she says.

Finding this balance was an important lesson, one that she hopes to pass on to future medical students.

“It becomes easy to allow medicine to consume your life, but it is essential to maintain your unique skills, interests, and values,” she warns. “Those are important qualities that will ultimately determine how you touch the lives of your patients.”

During her clinical rotations, Dalya met exceptional mentors and experienced a wide variety of medical fields which helped her make an informed decision about her future career in medicine. She decided to pursue anesthesiology, which taps into her natural caregiving instincts and her passion for patient care.

And on Match Day, March 20, with her husband and children by her side, Dalya found out she matched with her top choice anesthesiology residency program, UF Health Shands Hospital at the University of Florida-Gainesville, a discovery Dalya’s youngest daughter says makes her feel “awesome.”

“GW provided me with an exceptional foundation in medicine, patient care, leadership, and a commitment to lifelong learning,” Dalya says. “I’m excited for what my future has in store.”

For more information on Match Day, watch the Match Day 2015 video, starring Dalya and her entire family. Learn how you can help support student at SMHS or any of GW’s schools and colleges by visiting campaign.gwu.edu.

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