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Celine Rukiidi

Celine Rukiidi was drawn to Creighton’s mission and Jesuit tradition of service. She says she wanted to train at an institution that would teach her how to care for the whole person.

As a medical student on Creighton’s Phoenix campus, she’s learning cura personalis. As a member of the Arrupe Global Scholars Program, she’s also learning about global health and health equity. 

At the end of the five-year program, Rukiidi will have earned an MD and an MPH, and she’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make a difference on a global scale. We recently asked her to share some thoughts about her experience in the newly formed program.

What made you want to get into medicine?

  • If you were to ask me as a 6-year-old what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said, “a doctor that works in Africa.”  

    As weird as that sounds, I knew I wanted to pursue a career as a physician from a very young age. My mom went to nursing school when I was toddler, and I believe this exposure sparked my interest in healthcare. Additionally, my parents raised me with an acute awareness to global suffering due to their own challenges accessing healthcare. 

    I was born in New Jersey. However, I spent the majority of my upbringing in Canada. Ethnically, I am Rwandan and Ugandan. The Rwandan genocide and HIV epidemic in Uganda are two events that I grew up hearing a lot about. I could not think of a better career — one that will combine my interests and allow me to advocate for social justice and global equity — than becoming a physician. 

How did you first hear of the Arrupe Global Scholars Program?

  • I first heard about the Arrupe Global Scholars Program during my Creighton University School of Medicine interview in the fall of 2021. When the program’s mission and structure were described over the Zoom call, I remember being thrilled to hear of such an incredible opportunity. 

What has your experience been like so far? 

  • Being a member of the first cohort of the Arrupe Global Scholars has been a complete honor. The close-knit community that we have formed with each other has been an unexpected and consequential blessing of the program. Jason Beste, our program director, has been an outstanding mentor to us throughout our first year of medical school. 

Can you tell us what you did during your two-week orientation in the Dominican Republic? 

  • Our time in the Dominican Republic was focused on introducing us to the basics of global health. We spent lots of time listening to the stories of locals and understanding what healthcare looks like in different settings — whether that was rural communities, called campos, or in the busy city of Santiago. We acquainted ourselves with ongoing projects that the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) and Creighton have. Some mornings and most evenings, we had lectures where we learned the fundamentals of global health from Jason Beste. I will always look back on our trip to the Dominican fondly! It was a time for us to get to know each other before classes began and a beautiful foundation for us to begin medical school with. 

What are your long-term career goals?

  • Following medical school and residency, I hope to split my time between working in the U.S. and abroad. While in the U.S., I plan to work with marginalized patient populations, with a specific focus on refugees and immigrants. For my time outside of the U.S., I hope to practice medicine, teach and possibly work for an NGO in Rwanda.

Is there anything else people should know about the program?

  • One reason I love the Arrupe Global Scholars program is its commitment to social justice and global health equity. As American medical students and future healthcare professionals, there is a temptation for us to become “saviors,” while implementing projects abroad. That is the antithesis to the mission of Arrupe. In this community, we strive to decolonize global health.