Mohamed Oumar is a medical student at King’s College London, he received funding from the Student Opportunity Fund in 2016 for his project Brazil Winter School.
What did you set out to achieve with your Student Opportunity Fund project?
The University of Sau Paulo is consistently rated among the top institutions in the world for the quality and breadth of its research enterprise, particularly in the field of endocrinology. The opportunity to spend two weeks with world renowned researchers and experts in the field of endocrinology; learning and being inspired by their work was something I couldn’t pass up on. All too often we get bogged down with lectures and exams and we don’t really have a chance to explore the research side of medicine. For me this was a chance to take what I’ve learnt from textbooks and lectures and apply it into real life practice. Academia was an area I never had a chance to get involved with previously and the The Winter School has invigorated a passion within me to pursue a career in research and set solid foundations to do this.
Did the project change from its original plan as it took shape?
The overall course was well planned out by the host institution. Every day we had structured teaching and activities with all the students on the programme. My plans to visit Rio beforehand also went smoothly. I enjoyed relaxing on the beach after a stressful academic year, catching up with old friends who had also made it on to the Winter School program, and making the most of the hot sun. There were some near death experiences and adventures to tell the kids, but nothing too serious 😉
One of the biggest hurdles I faced was the language barrier. Normally when I travel, I either speak the language of the country I’m visiting or there are usually local people who speak English. In Brazil finding even one person who knew English was a challenge. I soon made friends with the students from Mexico who were able to understand Portuguese as it has many similarities with Spanish.
What skills and learning experiences have you gained through the project?
Being part of the winter school project has totally opened up my eyes to the value and importance of research in Medicine. The impact one study can have on the clinical treatment of numerous conditions is mind blowing. I learnt that DNA analysis will be the foundation of research for so many endocrinological disorders in the future and one aspect I look forward to using in my own clinical practice. My supervisor said something very profound that will forever resonate within me. He said “There will come a time when textbooks will become useless and research papers will be the only way of keeping up to date with developments in clinical practice.” Over the two weeks this became increasingly evident to me and I could see those words coming to fruition as I engrossed myself with the research project. This entire experience helped instil an appetite to pursue a career in academic research combined with clinical practice in the near future.
How has your project enhanced the student academic experience at King’s?
For me, networking is very important within the medical field. Someone I meet today, may help me discover the cure for cancer in 20 years time. By attending the Winter School project I was able to meet students from all over the world with similar mentalities and aspirations. This project has sparked interest in so many students. Just the thought of going to South America alone is a dream for many. The winter school was an experience that I took a lot away from and I am sure that the things I learnt and saw have shaped me into a more well rounded individual and and have set the foundation for me to go on and to great things in the field of Medicine and beyond.
Student Opportunity Fund applications will close on Friday 26th May. Visit our website for more details.