Compassion may not have been a course that Loor Alshawa ’14, a two-time Top 100 student of the year, took at Butler University. But it was a lesson she learned along the way, and is now taking it with her into her medical career. Alshawa graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine in May 2018, ready to take on a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky.
Alshawa’s first brush with compassion at Butler may have come from her older sister, also a Butler graduate. Alshawa was on a college visit with her sister, in the midst of the Bulldogs’ 2010 Final Four run, when she spotted Gordon Hayward. Alshawa was compelled to ask for a photo as Hayward made his way to class, and her sister, embarrassed as she was, compassionately didn’t bar Alshawa from ever stepping foot on campus again.
Compassion, however, is expected of siblings; not always of professors and other students. Yet, Alshawa got the sense, right away, that Butler was a tight-knit community.
At Butler, Alshawa learned the importance of compassion, as well as connecting with community. “It is so easy to lose sight of that, but having it ingrained in me at Butler, I hope it will stay with me in my career,” Alshawa said.
A large part of her lesson in compassion came from the myriad of volunteer opportunities Alshawa took part in as a student. For example, through the Diversity Center, she did a tour of volunteering in New Orleans. She also served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for three years. “We went out into the community to help people in need,” Alshawa said of these experiences. One of Alshawa’s favorite things about Butler is that sense of community.
“I went to Butler knowing that I wanted to go to medical school, and Butler helped me get there,” Alshawa said. “A career in medicine can be difficult, but now I am used to having a support system from the Butler community. Staying connected with Butler is my plan.”
Community and compassion mixed with high-level academics were the perfect combination at Butler for Alshawa.
“The academic rigor for medical school is just another level of difficulty,” Alshawa explained. But she was not daunted by the sheer amount of knowledge one must gain in a short amount of time. “I truly believe that Butler set me up for success; the difficulty of Butler courses gave me a leg up,” Alshawa said.
Butler’s academic rigor also put Alshawa in a position to deliver compassionate care. Alshawa had studied French since the seventh grade, but wasn’t planning on adding it to her Biology major. But she admired her French professors and felt she should pursue the language and make it as strong as possible, and decided to double major. With a summer semester in Paris and an independent study her senior year, Alshawa was fluent enough to interview French-speaking people in Indianapolis. The conversations were research about their culture, but also improved her skills. Little did she know that speaking French could help her future patients.
During Alshawa’s OB GYN rotation in medical school, her team had a patient come in by ambulance. The patient had given birth to her baby, but not the placenta, and they were still connected by umbilical cord. The woman was French-speaking only, and the emergency team was not able to even ask for her name. No one could talk to their patient.
Alshawa stepped up and shared her knowledge. “I ended up speaking to her and walking her through what was going on and what we were doing in an emergent situation,” Alshawa said.
These experiences lend Alshawa a vision of who she wants to become as a physician: someone who can interact with patients, visit after visit—without losing her compassion. Butler University’s commitment to academics, and its support of students and the community, will help her achieve just that.