Finding Her Passion

Madihah Alam (B.S. ‘19/H&S)

Madihah Alam

When do you know what you are meant to do with your life? For Madihah Alam (B.S. ‘19/H&S) that answer came in high school when her grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer. “I was always fascinated with the healing of others, but when my grandfather was sick, I could really see the impact that his physician had on him, how he relieved his pain and increased his life span,” she said. “That led me to volunteer at a local hospital. I saw how passionate the physicians were and I knew I could do that for the rest of my life.”

Madihah’s dream led her to the Honors College Guaranteed Admission Program for medicine. “One of the biggest reasons I decided to attend VCU was that I saw the amount of research opportunities available for undergrads. I also knew I would be able to shadow physicians at the VCU Medical Center,” she explained. “It excited me that I could explore a variety of fields in such a nurturing environment.”

When Madihah arrived at VCU in 2015 she dove right in. In her four years on campus, she worked on three separate research projects that covered a variety of different disciplines: behavioral pharmacology, psychology and medicinal chemistry. “These research opportunities were so incredible,” said Madihah. “I was able to delve into the research and expand my practical and analytical skills, allowing me to visualize the connection between bench and bedside.”

In her free time, Madihah volunteered with United2Heal, a nonprofit that collects surplus medical supplies and donates them to underserved communities internationally. She spent many Fridays checking expiration dates and packing medical supplies in a Richmond warehouse. “United2Heal really changed my life. I had never been part of an organization that has such a profound impact on people,” Madihah said. “Seeing that something you touch in Richmond helps someone in a refugee camp in Syria is indescribable.”

Madihah Alam's white medical coat

Madihah graduated in May with a degree in psychology and double minors in biology and chemistry, and in August, she started medical school at VCU. Her recent white coat ceremony was particularly emotional. “I can barely put it into words. It was so incredible. My grandma kept telling me ‘Your grandfather would be so proud of you,’” Madihah said. “It was his admiration of doctors that really led to my own.”

As for the future, Madihah has a simple goal. “I hope to leave a legacy as a doctor who cares deeply about her patients.”


Madihah is a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. To learn more about donating toward one of the College for Humanities and Sciences' many scholarships, please contact Caitlin Hanbury, director of community affairs, at cshanbury@vcu.edu or (804) 827-0862.