Heritage - Fall 2020

Jamila Raja holding an umbrella

A New Generation Of Physicians

After four years in the making, earning Pre-Accreditation status, receiving 2,165 applications, and conducting 593 candidate interviews, Sam Houston State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (SHSU-COM) enrolled their inaugural first class, enlisting 75 aspiring student doctors to address the physician workforce shortage in the eastern region of Texas.

Class of 2024 by the Numbers
  • 2,165 Applicants
  • 593 Candidate interviews
  • 75 Total students
  • 53% Women
  • 47% Men
  • 97% From Texas
  • 23.3 years Average age

Among the class of 2024, there is no shortage of fearless leaders, bright minds and inspiring advocates. While most come from rural roots, they are a diverse group of left and right-brain thinkers, differing in age, expertise, and ethnicities.

These future physicians have all worked hard for their spots in this highly competitive program and are exceptionally poised to be the driving forces behind innovation and advancement in the region’s struggling medical landscape.

They represent an equal mix of men and women from small Texas communities, who graduated from undergraduate institutions in the state including:

  • 14 from Texas A&M University
  • 12 from the University of Texas at Austin
  • 7 from the University of Texas at Dallas
  • 6 from the University of Houston
  • 3 from each Sam Houston State University, Baylor University, and Texas Tech University
  • 2 from Bahrain and Thailand

Over the next four years, they will pledge their time and talent to supporting the SHSU-COM mission of becoming “culturally aware, diverse and compassionate physicians, who follow osteopathic principles, that are prepared for graduate medical education and will serve the people of Texas with professionalism and patient-centered care.”

Meet the SHSU-COM Class of 2024

Jamila Raja—Houston, Texas
The Road Less Traveled

A child of immigrants, Raja credits her parents’ hard work and unwavering support for her many opportunities.

Though she does not know where her medical journey will take her, she welcomes the prospect of adventure and the chance to travel the path less traveled.

Raja’s first experience working in healthcare began right before her senior year of high school when she traveled to Yemen to volunteer at a local community clinic. What started as an obligation brought great joy to Raja’s life and created an unexpected career trajectory.

“The setting and the people made the work enjoyable. There was also this continuous chaos of people—entire villages, coming in for their checkup or visiting for a procedure, which I really thrived in,” Raja said. “From then on, I decided I would try to continue to find work in healthcare. Luckily, I found what I love to do.”

Meridith Buzbee—Tyler, Texas
All in the Family
Meridith Buzbee with bubbles

Meridith Buzbee believes her journey to SHSU-COM was predestined. A Bearkat by birth, Buzbee’s parents attended SHSU for their undergraduate degrees before pursuing medical careers. Today, her dad is an internal medicine physician in a rural Texas community, her mom is a physicians’ assistant, and her sister works as a nurse.

As Buzbee embarks on her own journey to become a physician, she is grateful for the many opportunities to learn and grow. Buzbee aims to pursue a residency program in pediatrics and hopes to perform medical mission work in underprivileged countries for those who do not have access to healthcare.

“In college, I served as a Young Life leader at Navasota High School where I mentored high school kids. I connected with these students and families from this small, rural town through shared dinners, sports and other activities. Here, I learned the importance of caring for others, especially the vulnerable. Each time I returned to Navasota while in college, I had a reality check. Now that I’m in medical school, I plan to spend my time learning about how I can provide medical care to these community-rich areas in Texas that are lacking in medical care.”

Amir Rasheed—Katy, Texas
Selfless Service
photo of Amir Rasheed

Despite the current pandemic, as a member of the first class of SHSU-COM, Amir Rasheed is optimistic about his new learning community.

“It is a unique experience that very few physicians have,” Rasheed said. “While I am nervous about not having upper classmen to look up to for advice, I am anxious to get started and prove myself. As student doctors, we have an opportunity to lead the community by example to combat this virus.”

His goal for the future is to start multiple free health clinics in underserved Texas communities along with other practicing physicians.

“I have worked with primary care physicians as a volunteer in college. Seeing the disparities for people who do not have access to primary care solidified my pursuit of a medical education,” Rasheed said. “I believe that primary care and preventative health education should be a right, not a privilege and I will work hard in narrowing this disparity.”

Preeyalak Jiamjid (JuJu)—Bangkok, Thailand
Adapt and Overcome
Preeyalak Jiamjid in front of College of Medicine building

Adapt and overcome. This has become JuJu Jiamjid’s personal mantra after facing unexpected challenges in life. In 2010, she completed her undergraduate degree in contemplative psychology and was considering pursuing psychotherapy when the sudden loss of her husband made her realize there could be a greater way to help people – becoming a physician.

“I struggled a lot while dealing with losses in my family. Moreover, as a nontraditional student who moved around often, it was difficult to build relationships with schools to get a traditional committee letter. I essentially dealt with each problem at the time, which delayed my application process for a few years to the point where some people thought that I might not make it. However, I never gave up.”

Jiamjid, a first-generation international student from Bangkok, Thailand, believes a medical degree is a privilege and plans to use it to do good.

“I shattered the glass ceiling in my family. My parents did not even finish high school, but they were self-learners. Because of that, they always told me that education is important since knowledge is the only thing no one can take away from you,” Jiamjid said.

Back to Top