Teach for America Alumnus Spearheads Health Science and Career Exploration

Nabeel Ahmad

HOUSTON: When Nabeel Ahmad, of Houston, taught at Sharpstown High School as a Teach For America (TFA) Houston corps member, he was surprised by the lack of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related opportunities available to his students.

As a corps member with TFA Houston, Nabeel was dedicated to spending two years teaching in a low-income community, an experience that opened his eyes to the reality of educational inequity in public schools.

Now an alumnus of TFA Houston and a third-year medical student at the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine (formerly the University College of Medicine), Nabeel is watching a program he spearheaded change the trajectory for high school students interested in pursuing careers in the health sciences.

In 2021, with the help of several other TFA Houston alums, he successfully launched a medical school-high school partnership with Jack Yates High School, a new chapter of the Health Career Collaborative, a national pathway to health career program. In this initiative, medical students serve as year-long mentors to a cohort of 10th graders interested in pursuing the health sciences as a career. The 10th graders then matriculate into the 11th and then 12th-grade programming.

Nabeel remembers fondly during the first year of the Collaborative, letting some of the students borrow his white lab coat.

“For the first time, many of these students began to recognize their true potential and visualize themselves as doctors, scientists, and researchers,” he said. “The program has been transformative for both the students and the mentors involved. It’s been gratifying on so many levels,” said Nabeel.

The program consists of hands-on learning opportunities, a public health learning module, and even creating a health fair where students have the chance to become health advocates and health leaders in their communities.

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Healthier Texas Summit invited Nabeel to give an oral presentation on how other healthcare academic institutions can launch similar initiatives with local high schools.

“We are incredibly proud of Nabeel for being a true catalyst for change and transforming the lives of students through the Health Career Collaborative,” said Tiffany Cuellar Needham, executive director of TFA Houston.

Nabeel looks forward to seeing the program grow and continue to provide guidance to more students interested in health and science careers.

“The Health Career Collaborative has taught me, the other mentors, and the students who participate that the sky is the limit, and anything is possible,” said Nabeel.