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Natasha Masub

College: Macaulay Honors College | Brooklyn College
Awards: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, 2015

Teaching English Before Med School

(head) Teaching English Before Med School

As Natasha Masub neared graduation, she had to choose between two rewarding alternatives: starting medical school or taking a 2015 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Bangladesh, where her parents were born.

Luckily, she will get to do both, for she was able to defer medical school for a year until she returns from her ancestral homeland.

"I really wanted to go to Bangladesh just to experience what life is like there," says Masub (Brooklyn College, B.A., Sociology, '15), who was born in Texas and reared in Queens and Nassau County.

She graduates having completed the rigorous premedical curriculum that's part of Brooklyn College's eight-year B.A.-M.D. program. Participants are selected in their senior year of high school and are encouraged to take a liberal arts major. Successful completion of the program guarantees a seat at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn.

"I was really inspired by my mother, who is a pediatrician and who takes a lot of pride in caring for children," she says. "I really wanted a career where I could be proud of the work that I do every day and could improve the health and well-being of patients."

As part of her requirements, Masub completed a clinical internship, shadowing a gastroenterologist at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola. She tutored as part of a community service requirement. "One reason I wanted the Fulbright is that I enjoy teaching and have a lot of experience," she says.

Through a Michael Garil Memorial Scholarship that she received from Brooklyn College, she also participated in research into stomach and esophageal cancer in Summer 2014 at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

The Fulbright will plunge her into the densely populated and fast-developing land that her parents left in the 1980s and 1990s. Masub speaks Bengali at home and studied reading, writing and speaking it in afterschool classes as she grew up. She looks forward to total immersion to expand her vocabulary and fluency.

She isn't yet sure what kind of medicine she will practice once she finishes medical school, but she says her senior thesis points toward a continuing interest: immigrants' access to health care. Her thesis included a quantitative analysis of health care utilization by Asian immigrants. "Regardless of socioeconomic status, just being an immigrant predicted lower access to health care," she says.

"All immigrants can attest to the fact that language skills and familiarity with the way health care works have a huge impact on whether you can access health care as much as you should," she says. "If we don't understand the language and the insurance system and how referrals work, it compromises the health care we receive. And if doctors are not familiar with immigration and the groups they're working with, it can lead to compromised health care. I'll take that with me when I pursue medicine."