Pictured above: Medical student Meriem Mokhtech (left) is pictured with scholarship donor Shelley Waters at the scholarship luncheon in April 2016.
Dec. 11, 2017 — Fourth-year UF medical student Meriem Mokhtech feels her future as a radiation oncologist was written in the stars.
“Medicine chooses you, no matter what anyone says to dissuade you or push you in another direction,” she says. “Once you get the itch, you have to do it.”
Mokhtech reaches ever closer to her dream career with support from the Dr. Stephen and Shelley Waters Scholarship and the Lawrence M. Goodman Scholarship. She says the financial support has allowed her to pursue a career path she’s dreamed of since high school.
“Receiving these two scholarships made it possible for me to attend the UF College of Medicine in the first place,” she says. “I wanted to stay home at UF after receiving my bachelor’s degree, but there were a lot of enticing offers elsewhere. Once the Goodman and Waters scholarships came in, I was convinced I was staying here.”
Mokhtech developed an interest in oncology as a teen. When she was 19, her grandmother was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Within weeks of the diagnosis, her grandmother passed away.
“Despite having seven doctors in my family, there was nothing anyone could do. That’s when I realized the deep impact a cancer diagnosis can have on a family,” she says. “I want to do what I can to help other families on that journey. I want to be a healer, in particular an oncologist.”
With her research recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, Mokhtech is already making headway in her field. After she graduates from medical school this spring, she plans to begin a competitive, five-year radiation oncology residency. She says she’s attracted to the unrelenting innovation of the specialty.