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Arnold School of Public Health

December grad blends public health and medicine as she continues her healthcare career at the USC School of Medicine Greenville

December 6, 2018 | Erin Bluvas,

Nabihah Kumte has had her sights set on becoming a physician for as long as she can remember. When she came to USC, her goal didn’t waver but she found a new path for making it happen: public health.

“My best friend encouraged me to look at public health because it would allow me the opportunity to take all of the MCAT and medical school prerequisites and set me apart as a med school applicant by having a more holistic understanding of medicine beyond the individual level,” the Columbia, South Carolina, native says. “After I looked at some of the public health courses, I was immediately sold and it was the best decision that I’ve ever made.”  

Once immersed in her program, the Honors College student connected with clinical associate professor Kara Montgomery, whom Kumte credits with helping to shape the way she thought about women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). “It’s inspiring to see an intelligent woman in such a prominent position who also manages to have a loving family outside of her career, and she is honestly who I hope to be like in the future,” Kumte says.

Kumte also found a mentor in instructor Charlotte Galloway. “I could see Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Galloway’s passion for helping students, and I will never take that for granted,” she says. “My love for this program stems from the people that work to make it incredible, and Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Galloway are prime examples of that.”

Outside of the Arnold School, Kumte has served as a research assistant in Carole Oskeritzian’s lab at the School of Medicine for more than two years. In addition to gaining experience through several research projects, the USC STEM Supplement and Magellan Scholar conducted her own pilot study to explore a novel method for detecting colorectal cancer earlier and without the need for a colonoscopy.  She has also had the opportunity to present her research at numerous events and contribute to four manuscripts for publication.

During her junior year, Kumte joined a group that would help define her as a professional. She points to Phi Delta Epsilon, an international medical fraternity, as her gateway to transforming into a rising medical student. With this organization, she traveled to Nicaragua on a medical mission trip where she encountered the global health issues she learned about in her classes. Kumte also joined Han’ Go International, which collects and distributes medical supplies to underserved communities both locally and abroad.

This fall, Kumte has been completing an externship with Palmetto Health USC Pediatric Pulmonology as she prepares to graduate this month. She’s graduating a semester early, but she won’t be leaving UofSC.

Kumte has already been accepted to join the USC School of Medicine Greenville, which offers the perfect next step toward meeting her career goal. “It has a one-of-a-kind curriculum with an emphasis on lifestyle medicine,” she says. “The root of lifestyle medicine is prevention of disease in the first place, which is also the root of public health. The two could not be more compatible and ever since I toured USC SOM Greenville as a freshman, I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be.”

For those considering a similar path, Kumte has some advice. “Take a leap of faith and go all in,” she says. “You’ll get out what you put into this program and believe me when I say you want to put as much into as you possibly can. By simply being a student in the Arnold School of Public Health, you have an enormous network available to you so take advantage of that.” 

She also looks forward to maintaining ties with USC well beyond her next graduation. From a little girl who created a Gamecocks-inspired username for her first email account to a woman committed to her second Carolina degree, Kumte is adamant that she will always remain Forever To Thee. “I am beyond grateful to have had the incredible experience that is attending The University of South Carolina,” she says. “I cannot wait to see how I can give back to my university in the future and hope to return even a fraction of what this school has given to me.”

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