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Graduating health sciences major learns from working with patients

Radhwa Ramadan earned a B.S. from DePaul University

Radhwa Ramadan
Radhwa Ramadan graduated summa cum laude in March from DePaul’s College of Science and Health with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences and a concentration in medical bioscience. (Farooq Hussaini)
CHICAGO — Radhwa Ramadan is driven to help others and give back to her community. While interning at a local Chicago clinic, Ramadan learned about the importance of empathy and communication. As an undergraduate student at DePaul University, she found ways to seamlessly bridge different facets of her culture and identity into her studies and advocacy.

Ramadan, a native of Orland Park, Illinois, graduated summa cum laude in March from DePaul’s College of Science and Health with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences and a concentration in medical bioscience.

On June 13, Ramadan will address her college classmates as the student speaker during online commencement ceremonies. More information is available at

Finding community
Community has always played a central role in Ramadan’s life, and growing up she felt her identity was split between her parents’ culture and her own.

“Both my parents are Egyptian, so being half-and-half — American and Egyptian — my whole life was split between two worlds. I didn’t feel that split at DePaul because I had a lot of communities that catered to every part of my identity and allowed me to explore every facet of who I wanted to be,” said Ramadan.

Her involvement with United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA) and Students for Justice in Palestine allowed Radhwa to find her stride at DePaul. She served as the emcee for UMMA’s annual Fast-a-Thon in February.

“Her kindness and compassion to other students and her appreciation for others’ needs and interests stood out to me most about Radhwa,” said Abdul-Malik Ryan, who works in DePaul’s Division of Mission and Ministry and serves as the university’s Muslim chaplain.

“She used her gift of humor and an ability to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable, and created a beautiful blend of lighthearted celebration with spiritual content that spread awareness about difficult global situations,” Ryan said.

Representation in medicine
During her first three years at DePaul, Ramadan volunteered at a clinic in the West Lawn neighborhood of Chicago. She worked with nurses, was responsible for transferring patients, took patient histories and prepared exam rooms. Ramadan also shadowed doctors at the clinic.

“Helping doctors with patient notes was my favorite part because it gave me a close-up understanding of the diagnosis process,” she said. “I got to see how many different variables are involved in comprehensive health care.”

She observed doctors making special efforts to connect with their patients and learned the importance of communicating with people through words, body language and linguistic nuances.

“It’s also a medically underserved area, and it showed me how much representation matters. I never realized how important it is to have somebody who looks like you or even talks like you, especially when it comes to health care,” she said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of health professionals abundantly clear to Ramadan.

“In times of duress, the whole world has turned to these people to not only take care of them physically, but also to help ease their fears and anxieties mentally,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure on those involved in medicine to be present, proactive, and most importantly, compassionate. It’s only motivated me more to reach my goals. I want to be able to help carry that weight as soon as I possibly can.”

Honors program offers diversity opportunities
DePaul’s honors program allowed Ramadan to take classes outside of her study of science, which included taking Spanish.

“Radhwa shows commitment in applying her Spanish language skills in the science and health fields,” said Lisbeth Swain, a Spanish faculty member in DePaul's Department of Modern Languages. “She has demonstrated her commitment to the university’s mission by volunteering with our nonprofit organization partners. She completed over 500 hours of community-based service that allowed her to apply her language skills in Chicago’s immigrant communities, and to broaden her understanding on how others face struggle and the importance of helping others in need.”

Next stop: Medical school
Ramadan plans to attend medical school with aspirations of becoming a doctor. However, her passion for helping people does not hinge on that professional title.

“Giving back to the community is one of the core pillars of Islam, and being Muslim, that has spoken to me my entire life,” said Ramadan.

In high school, Ramadan volunteered on the weekends at her local Islamic school as a teacher’s assistant and administrative assistant. She also volunteered at her local hospital, keeping patient rooms stocked and comfortable to ease the nurses’ workloads.

“I think the best way to give back, is to give back to people individually by helping them take care of themselves both mentally and physically,” she said. Retaining this spirit is the most important goal she’s set for herself.


Media contact:
Russell Dorn
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