Meet some of the alumni and student stars from our portrait exhibition in these in-depth profiles, looking at their journey to medical school and beyond!
Tafsir is a final year medical student at UCL. He chose the BMA Library as the background for his portrait because of its association as his “safe haven”. Drawn by the free coffee, he signed up in his first year and it quickly became his favourite place, both for studying and catching up with friends from across the years. For him the BMA epitomises his university experience: the awe-inspiring building with its magnificent history, combined with the hub of community and its modern amenities.
Tafsir is described by friends as “a big ball of energy” and this is certainly evident in his passions and projects.
Having come from an underrepresented background, he knows how important it is for students to have someone to look up to when applying for medicine. He came across Target Medicine whilst at UCL, and from there, his desire to make a career in medicine more accessible has grown. As a Target Medicine Mentor, he has also taught at summer schools for students from underrepresented backgrounds and says that he “loves helping others achieve that incredible feeling of getting into medical school.” He is currently part of a long-term research study (UKMACS) with UCLMS looking at widening access to medicine, which he is keen to continue after medical school. “It is access to a network of medical students and doctors that people from underprivileged backgrounds don’t have to help guide them – it’s important to change their mindset from ‘if I get in’ to ‘when I get in’.”
Tafsir is also heavily involved with MAA, a student-founded charity dedicated to revolutionising maternal healthcare in the developing world. He calls it being in the right place at the right time: the crux of how many of his opportunities came about. As treasurer of the UCL Bangla Society, he was contacted by MAA to advertise a trip for students to help run maternal health camps in Bangladesh. At a closer look, he found that the charity’s ethos resonated with him. He subsequently went on the ‘JourneyMaa’ trip, where he was able to help out with antenatal checks in his motherland and deliver educational seminars.
It was here that he met Ruhena, a pregnant woman who had trekked four hours to the clinic. Despite this being her fifth pregnancy, and after three of her children had previously passed away, she was still smiling. Tafsir was inspired by her determination, self-awareness and bravery, and the sheer scale of change that the charity could make to these women’s lives; Ruhena inspired him to work towards a bigger cause and continue his work at MAA.
It is this that has developed into an interest in the macro-level of Global Health. He has hopes of being able to spend more time on his projects and adapt a career in medicine to focus on these.
“I wouldn’t be fulfilled by just medicine alone - the large-scale work of Global Health that I’m interested in is facilitated by medicine, but isn't just medicine.
His talkative, personable nature has recently been utilised as marketing lead of a start-up, MediGate. He describes the business world as “another level of craziness”. It’s certainly different from the more structured world of medicine, but Tafsir is enjoying the spontaneity. A completely new world for him, he’s quickly learning about the high-stakes world of entrepreneurship.
With his fingers in so many different pies, it’s important to Tafsir that he has the opportunity to wind down. Whilst enjoying football, swimming and going to the gym as ways to unwind, he is also very vocal about looking after his mental health by having time to reflect and look inwards, in spite of being such an extroverted person.
Tafsir is keen to show through his social media that there is more to medical school than simply getting through the degree. He says his best memory of UCL so far was graduation day for his iBSc; that was the day he really fathomed what higher education meant for him. It was a culmination of discovering that he thrived doing lots of different things, expressing himself in all these different ways, gaining perspective about life beyond medicine, and being able to direct his enthusiasm to make even more of his time at medical school, that made the day so special.
His advice for medical students at UCL? “You want to come out of medical school with more than just the degree,” he says, “Immerse yourself in student life, create your own chance for serendipity and you’ll come out with an experience that shapes how you see and live life, for the better.”