Illustrated portrait of Abdikarin Abdullahi
Illustration: John Jay Cabuay

Being the Change

The process of applying to medical school was intimidating for Abdullahi, a first-generation student, so he decided to help those following in his footsteps. He created Bridging Admissions, which began in 2018 as a student campaign to pair aspiring doctors with mentors who could guide them through the application process. It has since blossomed: The program has mentored over 1,000 applicants, and it offers about 10 participants annually a $2,500 fellowship to cover application-related costs, from tech assistance to interview clothes. The vast majority of these fellowship students are accepted at prestigious medical schools, and Abdullahi and his team aim to continue supporting them.

Remembering His Roots

Abdullahi was raised in San Diego. As the child of Somalian-refugee parents, he knew firsthand “how lower-income status interfaces with health,” he says. “We relied on Medicaid for our health insurance and Section 8 housing to help make ends meet.” After completing a college-prep program that helped ready him for higher education, he decided to pay it forward, returning to the program as an educator. “That’s when I fell in love with teaching and mentorship,” he says. He sees his career in medicine as another way to increase equity in communities like the one where he grew up. 

Physician Assistance

“The best part of being a doctor has been all the little moments, just holding a patient’s hand as they’re getting their blood drawn and seeing the comfort it brings them. It’s empowering – and a reminder that being someone’s physician is an incredible privilege.”

– Kira Goldenberg for UCSF Magazine

Read the Winter 2024 Issue