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Mariam Yahaya 2018

Mariam Yahaya was just 15 when she went to college in Nigeria to study Anatomy.  For years, she worked with her family to save money for medical school tuition.  In 2006 she had a baby AND was accepted into medical school in Curacao.  In a brand new environment with a rigorous course of study and a new baby, she quickly learned to become a master multitasker.  Her love and passion for medicine gave her strength to persevere and overcome obstacles.  She and her daughter came to America to complete her clinical clerkship.  With just 8 weeks of electives to finish, she received devastating news:  her family could not afford to support her financially any longer.  She tried to borrow money from friends and relatives and applied for financial aid—all to no avail.  She struggled to keep her head above water and ended up homeless with her daughter, living in a car. 

Mariam says that she wants to be a physician without borders, advocating for women’s causes all around the world.  She writes, “I have had a very humbling experience that has allowed me to understand the true meaning of charity. “  As a 2018 Spirit Award winner, she will receive tuition to complete medical school as well as stipends to cover her medical licensing examination fees. 

*Nominated by nonprofit partner The Drake House .

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